Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, Mayor Ed Lee, the FBI, and the Department of Justice

When to contact the FBI
Image on the "When to Contact the FBI" page of the 
FBI website.

On July 21st, I spoke to suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi for the KPFA Evening News. I asked, for one, about the allegations that Mayor Ed Lee had perjured himself before the Ethics Commission. And, about the implausible bomb scare that interrupted the mayor's testimony and caused his police security detail to whisk him out of the hearing room, to an unspecified location, leaving everyone else inside and in City Hall, including a wedding party and the children in the City Hall day care center.  

Here’s what Sheriff Mirkarimi said:

"This is going to become one of the great absurdities of recent history in San Francisco, if two aspects of that event are not well investigated and the story concluded. One is the bomb scare, the bogus bomb scare that raises a lot of questions that remain unanswered. As the elected Sheriff of San Francisco, where the Sheriff's Department is responsible for administrating the safety, day to day, of City Hall, I can tell you both, from this perspective, that I am fully aware of the spoken and unspoken, public and private protocols for evacuation of City Hall, for both manmade and natural disasters.  Nowhere in those protocols has there ever been a spelled out incident for an evacuation of just one dignitary, or just one person, meaning the mayor in this case.  

That in itself is a felony. It's a violation of city resources. That needs to be investigated, and that really should be investigated by the feds. I do not believe that there's any local or state agency that has the unbiased ability, to look at that.”

And with regard to perjury, I don't think that should be swept under the rug, because it goes to the motivation, as to why Mayor Ed Lee initiated the charges, without the charges being defined.  As people recall, the counts and the charges were not defined until practically two months after I was suspended without pay. And that goes to the absence of due process.” 

He added that he didn’t expect a federal investigation without public outcry, though we didn't have time to talk about what form he imagined that might take.

Earlier, on July 2nd, the Sheriff’s Department had told me that their job had been simply to secure the inside of the building, which included searching it for any incendiary devices, but not evacuating it unless a threat seemed real. The bomb, they said, was reported to be outside City Hall, so the police were investigating that, and it was best for the Sheriff's Department to keep people inside City Hall while they did so. The decision to evacuate the mayor had been, they said, an SFPD decision.

On July 2nd, Joshua Sabatini And Dan Schrieber, writing in the Examiner, reported that conspiracy theorists "pondering the bizarre sequence of events during misconduct proceedings against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi" might be doomed to frustration "because of the seemingly universal code of silence being imposed by San Francisco politicians and law enforcement."
However, almost three weeks later, on July 19th, John Coté and John Wildermuth, wrote, in the Chronicle, that "conspiracy theory" had been ruled out by an SFPD report of a phone call to Mission Station, made by a person with a distinct accent, possibly of “eastern” descent, screaming and sobbing hysterically that he’d placed a bomb at the Golden Gate Bridge and was about to kill himself.  And, that a Ukrainian accomplice, whom he’d met only one time, had planted a bomb with a timer in a rental car that would soon blow up outside City Hall. 
I obtained a copy of the police report that Coté and Wildeuth had cited in the Chronicle, and confirmed most everything reported. However, it didn't appear to me that the police report decisively ruled out intentional misuse of the City’s security resources, as claimed in the headline, "Bomb threat no conspiracy, records show."

It explained neither the half hour delay, between the call and the move to halt the mayor's testimony, nor the uprecedented security routine in which police whisked Mayor Lee alone out of the Ethics Commission, halfway through his testimony, presumably to safety.  
The call itself also sounded on the silly side, and there was no mention of a recording, but I suppose that anyone who calls any San Francisco police station with a bomb threat is supposed to be taken seriously.  Even someone who calls Mission Station  to say that they're on the verge of suicide in the Marina, where they left a bomb at the Golden Gate Bridge, and that a one time Ukrainian acquaintance also left a bomb in a rental car outside City Hall.  
By this time, a number of people were asking me, "What about the bomb scare?  Why isn't anyone investigating the bomb scare?" or, "What do we have to do to get an investigation of the bomb scare?"  As though I might know because I'd been reporting this story on KPFA.  
But I didn't, so I undertook a little info quest, into what now seems comically obvious, but it wasn't before I studied a few websites and made a few calls.
I'm recounting this both because people had asked me questions I couldn't answer, and because I know that many, including myself, are intimidated by bureaucracy, unfamiliar procedures, and large imposing federal institutions like the FBI - even though it's supposed to be here to protect all of us.
First I called the San Francisco District Office of the Department of Justice and asked what the procedure was if one thought something needed investigated, and they said one would start by calling the FBI, or sending a letter to this address:
Federal Bureau of Investigation
450 Golden Gate Avenue, 13th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102

Then, I studied the FBI's web page, which said:
Reporting Crime
You can report suspicious activities and crime by contacting us using the information below. You can also submit a tip electronically. See When to Contact the FBI for more information. To report possible public corruption, please call our toll-free hotline at 800-376-5991.

The list on that "When to Contact the FBI link" includes:
Possible acts of terrorism, including violence, funding, or recruitment  (Bomb threats, or reporting one so as to use a public security response for a non-security purposes?)

Corrupt activities in state, local, or federal governments or in law enforcement  (Offering someone a city job for a political outcome - e.g., Sheriff Mirkarimi's resignation? - as former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin alleges Mayor Lee did, through an intermediary, Walter Wong?)
More detailed information, that page says, can be found on another page: What We Investigate
Then I called the local number and briefly explained the incident I was inquiring about, to which the woman who answered said that the SFPD would be expected to investigate that, unless they turned to the FBI for help,  because it had taken place in a municipal rather than federal building.  
So I asked, "What if the SFPD already offered an account that explains neither the half hour delay between the call and the interruption of the mayor's testimony, nor the uprecedented security response, meaning the police evacuation of the mayor and no one else?"

The woman on the phone said, “If you think something needs to be investigated, you should contact the FBI."

Then I asked, "And what if the San Francisco DA has said that evidence is insufficient to investigate the perjury allegations, but citizens disagree?"
Same answer.
Several days later I called the San Francisco FBI office again and said, "I see this number on your website, (415) 553-7400, for reporting suspicious activity or crime.  And an 800 number, 800-376-5991, for reporting possible political corruption.  But, I also see this paragraph that reads:
"Although we operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, our normal walk-in business hours are from 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you need to speak to a FBI representative at any time other than during normal business hours, please telephone our office at (415) 553-7400."

"Does this mean," I asked, "that anyone can simply walk into the San Francisco District Office, at 450 Golden Gate Avenue, 13th Floor, and file a complaint with the FBI?"

The gentleman on the phone said, "Yes, just come in during business hours, ask to speak to someone for that purpose, and fill out the paperwork. Bring your documentation." 




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