SAN FRANCISCO -- Signaling that it was time to end an embarrassing public distraction, Mayor Gavin Newsom suspended Supervisor Ed Jew on Tuesday for alleged misconduct that included soliciting bribes and lying about his place of residence.
The first-year supervisor, who has been under state and federal investigation, maintains his innocence and has refused to step down. Newsom’s action forces a city Ethics Commission hearing, which could set the stage for the Board of Supervisors to vote to remove Jew from office.
Jew, 47, was served at his Chinatown flower shop with a seven-page outline of the alleged ethics violations, which include filing falsified documents claiming he lived in the Sunset District, which he represents, a requirement for holding office. Jew faces state felony perjury and fraud charges for allegedly lying to city officials about his home address.
Newsom’s outline of Jew’s alleged violations also mentions a federal investigation into whether Jew sought payment of as much as $80,000 in cash in exchange for helping to secure business permits for a group of immigrant-owned tapioca drink shops in his district. Last week, federal prosecutors charged him with one count of fraud.
Jew’s attorney, Steven Gruel, did not return calls Tuesday.
Newsom named a 29-year-old city budget analyst to take Jew’s place temporarily. Since October, Carmen Chu has overseen the budget for Newsom’s fledgling universal healthcare program. She was sworn into office Tuesday during a private ceremony, while City Hall workers removed Jew’s name from the door of his office.
“The mayor has said, ‘Enough is enough.’ This has been enough of a distraction. We need to get back to the work of city government,” said spokeswoman Giselle Barry.
The Ethics Commission has five days to make a recommendation to the supervisors. If the commission recommends that Jew be removed, the board has 30 days to vote, according to the rules established by the City Charter.
Many support the mayor’s move.
“The mayor is doing things by the numbers,” Supervisor Tom Ammiano said. “This thing could come to a vote by the board. If Mr. Jew asks for a stay, it could drag on.”
In May, FBI investigators searched Jew’s City Hall office looking into whether he accepted cash from the drink shop owners in exchange for influence. The probe led to the revelation that Jew did not actually live in San Francisco but in the wealthy bedroom community of Burlingame in San Mateo County. He has remained on the job, meeting with constituents as recently as this week.
Ammiano said city officials and the public were weary of the distraction.
“People in general are feeling resentful and annoyed that they have to give time to this. It’s not preferable for city officials or Supervisor Jew,” he said.