As we reported, a search warrant was executed at the home of longtime Los Angeles politician and former child actor Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) around 7 AM local time Wednesday morning.
In an impromptu interview with Fox11 Los Angeles about an hour later, Kuehl quickly cast the incident as a “bogus search” spurred by an “obsessed” former LA Metro employee that LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva simply went along with. However, it was soon reported that the warrant related to “an ongoing public corruption investigation” and was executed by LASD and federal agents, and that warrants were concurrently served at the home of LA County Civilian Oversight Commissioner and Friend-of-Kuehl Patricia Giggans, the LA County Hall of Administration, the headquarters of Giggans’ non-profit, Peace Over Violence, and LA Metro Headquarters.
(Read the warrant here.)
Kuehl also told Fox 11 that she’d been informed of the upcoming search the night before by “county counsel,” who’d been tipped off by LA County Inspector General Max Huntsman – and now Sheriff Villanueva has asked California Attorney General Rob Bonta to open an investigation into that tip-off. From Fox News’s Bill Melugin:
Some interesting revelations can be found in the letter:
“The investigation had been shared with other agencies and a special master was appointed.
“When the search warrant was served on the residence of Patricia “Patti” Giggans, the detectives were met at the door by Ms. Giggins and her attorney. It was obvious both were already aware of the search warrant and were waiting for detectives to arrive.
. . .
“[Kuehl] stated she was told about the search warrant the night before by a female employed by Los Angeles County Counsel (County Counsel); who represents both myself as Los Angeles County Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors concurrently as legal counsel.
It’s apparent that Kuehl spent Tuesday night creating and disseminating her talking points, including attempts to deflect attention to Villanueva and to the judge who signed the warrant. In a laughable piece of propaganda labeled as an op-ed headlined “Is sheriff search of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s home just a vindictive political stunt?” the LA Times quickly got to work propagating the preferred narrative, which was also tweeted by their reporter on the scene, Alene Tchekmedyian, in record time Wednesday morning.
The public corruption investigation, as discussed in our prior coverage, began after a September 2020 investigative report by Fox’s Bill Melugin about a lucrative no-bid contract to operate a sexual harassment hotline for LA Metro that was awarded to Peace Over Violence, a non-profit whose executive director, Patricia Giggans, is a very close friend of Kuehl’s, and for which Kuehl serves on the advisory board. Kuehl also appointed Giggans to the LA County Civilian Oversight Commission, and Giggans and other Peace Over Violence board members donated thousands of dollars to Kuehl’s campaigns.
Giggans told LA Times’ Tchekmedyian that officers had a warrant to look for “technology,” and it was reported that the organization’s server was seized during the search of POV’s headquarters. Giggans’s vehicle was also seized, leading Giggans to say, “Now I’m pissed.”
The search warrant and a detailed statement about the case investigators provided to the judge supporting the warrant were posted online by the LA Sheriff’s Department “in full transparency,” and it seems they believe that numerous bribery crimes were committed.
In an unusual move, LASD posted online the search warrant & detailed statement about the case investigators provided to the judge to get the warrant signed. In it, they claimed an array of bribery crimes may have been committed. Here’s the whole doc: https://t.co/mZfu5HUFSv pic.twitter.com/YBsWKc9k4s
— Alene Tchekmedyian (@AleneTchek) September 14, 2022
In addition to an email from Kuehl’s Deputy for Special Projects asking Metro executives to create the hotline and have Peace Over Violence run it. Local investigative journalist Cece Woods provided additional emails from Giggans, including an email to Kuehl’s deputy and an assistant to Mayor Eric Garcetti requesting their help in getting a bill paid, and a February 12, 2016 email in which Giggans forwards the email from Kuehl’s deputy to one of her employees, saying:
Here are ideas – from phone call with Metro & Madeline, who is with Sheila Kuehl’s office. We were told to be generous in our budgeting. They will pay us to do this. It’s an expansion.
The former Metro employee who was, according to Kuehl “sort of let go,” had filed complaints with her bosses over Peace Over Violence’s contract after examining the low call volume and calculating the cost per call handled by POV at over $8,000 and recommending that the contract be terminated. Jennifer Loew appeared in Melugin’s initial story describing her efforts to end the wasteful spending and revealed that POV’s contracts were all under $500,000, which allowed them to be approved only by Metro executives instead of having to go before the Metro board. In addition, Kuehl’s relationships with POV and Giggans weren’t disclosed.
Instead of being rewarded for looking out for the taxpayer:
Loew tells FOX 11 that when she started blowing the whistle on the hotline and other alleged misconduct at Metro, she was retaliated against, including a denied promotion, and the moving of her office from the executive floor down to the P1 basement level next to the parking garage and restrooms.
Late Wednesday afternoon Huntsman told the LA Times that he didn’t tip off Kuehl. But when he says “them,” does he mean Kuehl and Giggans, or is he denying that he told someone at County Counsel’s office? In addition, a spokesperson for LA County DA George Gascón’s office claims the case was presented to the office in September 2021, but they determined that the evidence didn’t prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that the LASD said they’d keep investigating. No one from LASD updated the DA’s office before Wednesday, they say. With federal investigators involved, Gascón’s services might not be needed anyway.
NEW: DA's office said LASD presented this case to them in September last year, but DA's office determined the evidence did not prove criminal conduct beyond reasonable doubt. LASD said they'd keep investigating. DA's office was not consulted about today's warrants. Full statement pic.twitter.com/SOdMwGdbg4
— Alene Tchekmedyian (@AleneTchek) September 14, 2022
Expect a lot more grandstanding by Kuehl, Giggans, and Gascón over the next few days.