Late Thursday we reported on the latest in the saga of “raids” at the home of LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and her bestie, nonprofit exec Patti Giggans, carried out by members of the LA Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That report detailed an alleged court filing in the case that contained what were purported to be text messages Kuehl received the night before the search warrants were executed and tipped Kuehl off to them, even giving the precise time of arrival.
Those text messages were released Friday morning by KFI’s Steven Gregory, who tweeted photos from the court filing. (Note: Some have observed that the photos don’t look like text messages, and they do not. Having worked in the court system for more than 20 years prior to coming to RedState, it’s my belief that these are photos of what the forensic software used to examine electronic devices would have produced.)
These are the text messages extracted from Sheila Kuehl's phone showing the heads up she got the night before the search warrant for her home. @KFIAM640 @billhandelshow @GaryandShannon @johnandkenshow @ConwayShow pic.twitter.com/CWKkVDfROW
— stevengregory (@stevengregory) September 23, 2022
Shortly after Gregory tweeted those photos, investigative reporter and White House nemesis Bill Melugin released photos of the filing in question, titled, “Supplemental Declaration of Sgt. Max Fernandez Pursuant to Court’s Order Dated September 20, 2022.” Fernandez is with the LA Sheriff’s Department and is the deputy who obtained the search warrant initially. In that declaration, Fernandez revealed a few things that were not previously known.
On this page we learn that when authorities arrived at the home of Patti Giggans, Kuehl’s BFF, at 7 a.m. that morning, that Giggans’ phone was nowhere to be found. Fernandez writes:
“I concluded that the likely explanation for the absence of her phone was that she was aware that the warrant was going to be executed, and she disposed of the phone in some manner beforehand.”
While it had previously been reported that Giggans’ attorney, Austin Dove, was also there when the warrant was executed, this declaration states that he arrived about 15 minutes into the search and had some words for deputies.
Dove said to investigators:
“There is no phone. You can search for the phone. You’re entitled to search the place.”
Now, since Dove wasn’t there when investigators got there, then arrived saying that there was no phone, it certainly seems possible that he could have removed the phone. Giggans was also filmed that day losing her cool as investigators seized her vehicle, saying, “I’m really pissed off now!” and objecting. Perhaps they seized the car because the phone could have been hidden inside? Just speculation.
The filing itself described the two text messages we reported about Thursday and which were pictured in Gregory’s tweet, and those pictures were included as an exhibit to the filing.
Kuehl’s attorney – who is not employed by the county, but by blue chip law firm Jones Day – responded to the filing by writing to Deputy Attorney General Susan Schwartz, and the former Assistant United States Attorney makes an interesting argument.
The attorney, Cheryl O’Connor, first expresses shock and horror and contends that Sgt. Fernandez “spent the weekend” searching Kuehl’s phone, when Fernandez clearly stated that he performed the examination on Friday morning, September 16, then makes this surprising claim:
“[A]nd that he intentionally invaded the attorney-client privilege by reading and publishing text messages between County Counsel and the Supervisor.”
O’Connor then intimates that Fernandez’s purpose was not to uncover evidence of the commission of a crime, but to smear the Supervisor, then correctly states:
“[S]imply receiving information is not unlawful under Penal Code §148, §168, or any other statute.”
A few bones to pick, counsel. First, no one has contended that Kuehl was the one who committed the crime. It’s been contended that the people who transmitted the information to Kuehl committed a crime, likely the crime of obstruction of justice. In addition, who tipped off Giggans? Was it Tori Osborn, who was copied on the text message to Kuehl from her Chief of Staff? It would seem that it wasn’t Kuehl because nothing was mentioned about that in Fernandez’s declaration, but it could also be that Fernandez only shared the minimum amount of information he felt he needed to for the purpose of that declaration.
Second, according to the LA County Charter, County Counsel only represents the Board of Supervisors “in all matters and questions of law pertaining to their duties.” (Emphasis mine.) The full section of the charter reads:
The County Counsel shall represent and advise the Board of Supervisors and all County, township and school district officers, in all matters and questions of law pertaining to their duties, and shall have exclusive charge and control of all civil actions and proceedings in which the County or any officer thereof, is concerned or is a party. He shall also act as attorney for the Public Administrator in the matter of all estates in which such officer is executor, administrator with the will annexed, or administrator, and the County Counsel shall, in every such matter, collect the attorney’s fees allowed therein by law and pay the same into the County Treasury.
Even the County Counsel’s website (whose homepage is filled with SJW, “equity” bunk) admits that they only work on civil matters:
The Office of the Los Angeles County Counsel was established pursuant to the County Charter and State Constitution in 1913. The County Counsel is an appointed County officer whose duties include providing legal advice and representation to the Board of Supervisors, County officers, County departments and various other public agencies in civil matters.
Unless awarding no bid contracts as part of a quid pro quo arrangement falls under Kuehl’s duty as a Supervisor (and, given that this is Los Angeles, that’s a possibility), Kuehl is not entitled to representation by County Counsel in this criminal matter, nor is that activity within County Counsel’s authority under the county charter.
Interestingly, though, in the September 13 text message from Dawyn Harrison to Kuehl, Harrison writes:
“Should anything come of this in the morning, Cheryl O’Connor is on standby. If you need her, she will be there.”
While O’Connor is definitely privately-retained counsel, it’s unclear at this time whether she’s retained by Kuehl personally or by the county. The county has known for months that the investigators were looking into public corruption charges, and O’Connor, not Harrison, has represented Kuehl in hearings related to that investigation. It’s curious that Harrison is the one passing along this message, instead of O’Connor. It’s obvious that O’Connor had also been tipped off that some event was going to occur the next reason. It stands to reason that an attorney would contact their client if an event was to occur that could possibly require their assistance. Why didn’t O’Connor contact her client directly to make plans?
O’Connor concludes her letter by requesting that the California AG’s office obtain Kuehl’s devices from LASD as soon as possible since they’d already been mirrored by investigators, an issue that was resolved during Thursday’s court hearing.