Since a search warrant was executed at the home of LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl (and four other locations) a week ago, there hasn’t been a dull moment in the Southern California political world. As we reported, Kuehl gave an inadvisable impromptu live interview within an hour of LA Sheriff’s Department deputies and FBI agents arriving at her home, in which she stated that she’d been tipped off to the raid the night before by county counsel. Because of that, Sheriff Alex Villanueva requested that the CA Attorney General look into whether or not Kuehl was tipped off and whether any crime was committed. Then, Attorney General Bonta accepted that invitation but took it one step further, stripping the investigation completely from Villanueva’s office, alluding to the Kuehl’s allegations that the two-year-long investigation was politically motivated.
All of the parties were due in court Thursday for a hearing on the legality of the search warrant and for rulings on various motions regarding the return of electronic items seized and getting the investigative file to the Attorney General’s office. The issue of whether Kuehl was improperly/illegally tipped off wasn’t addressed in depth during the hearing, but the LA Times reports:
Of the items seized, sheriff’s investigators have reviewed 250 text messages and two voicemails on Kuehl’s phones related to her being tipped off the night before the raid, the judge said.
Kuehl’s attorney complained that she was “gravely concerned” that those text messages and voicemails were reviewed by sheriff’s investigators, but a reporter for Courthouse News Service added that Judge William Ryan stated that the allegation that Kuehl was tipped off is a serious one:
It’s a very serious allegation, that the supervisor had been tipped off that search was coming. That’s not nothing. It’s a potential felony.
According to an anonymous source who provided purported court documents in the case relating to Kuehl being tipped off to KFI reporter Steve Gregory, the investigation definitely has legs.
Gregory appeared during the 5 PM hour of the John and Ken Show Thursday, immediately after meeting his anonymous source in a parking lot “at an undisclosed location” and read the content of two text messages sent to Sheila Kuehl late at night on September 13, 2022, the night before the search warrants were executed.
A text message dated September 13, 2022 at 10:17 p.m. from Kuehl’s chief of staff, Lisa Mandel, to Kuehl and her friend Tori Osborn (who was pictured with Kuehl the next morning in front of Kuehl’s home) reads, according to Gregory:
Just got a call from Dawn Harrison. She’s been informed that the sheriff may have obtained a search warrant for your home and Patti G’s. I told her this was last week’s news. She wanted to make sure you were aware. Per the informant, the warrant is for 7 a.m. tomorrow. Let me know if you want me to do anything. It may still be a hoax, but then again, you never know. Feel free to call any time.
Dawn Harrison is acting county counsel for the County of Los Angeles, so is the attorney for the entire Board of Supervisors as a whole. When Mandel says “I told her this was last week’s news,” she is likely referring to “the LA Times” tipping Kuehl off the week before, as Kuehl referenced in that infamous live interview.
Then Harrison herself allegedly texted Kuehl at 11:41 p.m. that night. According to the document Gregory read, that text message said:
Got it. This was the first my team had heard of it. Max called CoCo tonight with his “intel.” Just wanted to make sure you were aware. Should anything come of this in the morning, Cheryl O’Connor is on standby. If you need her, she will be there.
“Max” is Max Huntsman, the County Inspector General, and Gregory reports that “CoCo” is “county counsel.” Cheryl O’Connor is Kuehl’s private attorney, and has been representing her in ongoing litigation regarding a prior search warrant in the matter.
Gregory reported that the document states that there are “25 different text messages relating to the above topic and two voicemails, also on the evening of September 13th, 2022. Both stated she had an urgent matter she needed to discuss with Supervisor Kuehl.”
According to investigators Gregory spoke with, if these text messages are authentic they depict felonious criminal conduct.
Judge Ryan also found that Kuehl’s allegation that the Sheriff’s Department went judge shopping to have the warrant signed by a sympathetic judge was without merit, ruling that “the process to obtain the new warrant did not deviate from established processes for law enforcement to obtain a warrant.”
He said that Sheriff’s Sgt. Max Fernandez, who wrote the statement of probable cause that was presented to Judge Craig Richman ahead of last week’s raids, attempted to get the warrants signed Sept. 8 by another judge who had handled proceedings related to earlier warrants in the case.
That judge, Eleanor Hunter, was on vacation. So Fernandez went to the bailiff’s office and was directed to another open court, which happened to be that of Richman, Ryan found.
“Detective Fernandez did not select Judge Richman,” Ryan wrote. “At the time, Detective Fernandez did not know Judge Richman and had never heard of him before.”
Oh. So much for all of the deflection, Supervisor Kuehl. Stop being a “Snowflake weepie.”
Listen to Gregory’s report below.
(This piece was edited post-publication to clarify Cheryl O’Connor’s role in the matter.)