It has been reported that a search warrant was served at the home of long-time Los Angeles politician and former child actor Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) at 7 AM on Wednesday morning.
In an unplanned interview on Fox11 Los Angeles about an hour later, Kuehl described the incident as an “bogus search” spurred by an “obsessed” former LA Metro employee that LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva just backed. But, it was later discovered that the warrant was related to “an ongoing public corruption investigation” and was carried out by LASD and federal agents, and warrants were delivered at the residence of LA County Civilian Oversight Commissioner and friend of Kuehl, Patricia Giggans, and at the LA County Hall of Administration, which is the home of Giggans’ non-profit organization, Peace Over Violence, and LA Metro Headquarters.
Kuehl further told Fox 11 that she'd been aware of the planned search earlier in the evening she was informed by “county counsel,” who'd received a tip from LA County Inspector General Max Huntsman. Sheriff Villanueva has requested California Attorney General Rob Bonta to open an investigation into the leak.
Many interesting facts are contained in the following 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.
Kuehl clearly spent Tuesday night drafting and disseminating her points of view and even attempting to divert attention to Villanueva and the judge, who was the one to sign the warrant. In a funny piece of propaganda dubbed an opinion piece headlined “Is sheriff search of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl's home just a vindictive political stunt?” the LA Times quickly got to working on spreading the story they chose to use and it was posted by the reporter covering this particular incident, Alene Tchekmedyian. The tweets were posted in record speed on Wednesday morning.
The public corruption probe began with an investigative report in September of 2020 by Fox's Bill Melugin about a costly no-bid contract to operate the sexual harassment hotline of LA Metro that was awarded to Peace Over Violence, a non-profit. Its executive director, Patricia Giggans, is a friend of Kuehl’s, and Kuehl serves on its advisory board. Kuehl appointed Giggans to be a member of the LA County Civilian Oversight Commission. Giggans and other Peace Over Violence board members contributed hundreds to Kuehl’s campaigns.
Giggans told LA Times' Tchekmedyian that officers were given a warrant to investigate for “technology,” and it was reported that the company's server was taken during the search of POV's headquarters. The vehicle Giggans was driving was also seized, which led Giggans to tell Tchekmedyian, “Now I'm pissed.”
The search warrant and an extensive statement regarding the case that the investigators gave to the judge who endorsed the warrant were made available online by the LA Sheriff's Department “in full transparency,” and they appear to believe that several bribery crime were committed.
There is also an email sent by Kuehl's Deputy for Special Projects asking Metro executives to establish a hotline and have Peace Over Violence run it. A local investigative journalist, Cece Woods, sent additional emails from Giggans, which included an email sent to Kuehl's deputy as well as an assistant of mayor Eric Garcetti asking for their help in getting a bill paid and an email sent on February 12, 2016, where Giggans forwarded an email sent by Kuehl's deputy to one her employees, writing:
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 Kuehl said was “sort of let go” had filed a complaint with her bosses regarding Peace Over Violence's contract after looking into the low volume of calls and calculating the cost per call processed by POV at more than $8,000 and recommending that the contract should be terminated. Jennifer Loew was part of Melugin's first story describing her efforts to cut down on excessive spending. She also revealed that the contracts of POV were all less than $500,000, which enabled them to be ratified only by Metro executives, rather than having to be submitted to Metro board members. In addition, Kuehl's ties with POV and Giggans were not disclosed.
Instead of getting a reward for watching 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.
On Wednesday, Huntsman said to the LA Times that he didn't give Kuehl a tip. But, when he refers to “them,” does he refer to Kuehl and Giggans or is he denial that he told someone in the county counsel's offices? A spokeswoman for LA County DA George Gascon's office says the case was first presented in September 2021, however they concluded that the evidence did not show Kuehl’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that LASD declared that they'd continue to investigate. There was no sign that anyone from LASD updated the DA's office before then, they claim. With federal investigators in the mix, Gascon's assistance might not be required at all.Expect more pomp and circumstance from Kuehl, Giggans, and Gascon in the next few days.