IG News Updates,
Sheila Kuehl and Patti Giggons have been among the most vocal critics of Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kuehl has reprimanded the sheriff over multiple scandals and allegations of misconduct within the agency. Gigans, a member of the Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission, also clashed with the department. Both have asked him to step down.
Meanwhile, the two became the subject of a highly controversial investigation by the department, which raised concerns about the sheriff and led to new allegations that the department was going after its political enemies. The Times reported last year about allegations that a public corruption unit formed under Villanueva was targeting critics.
The investigation took a dramatic turn on Tuesday when California Ett. General Rob Bonta took control of the investigation from the sheriff, saying the move was in the “public interest”.
“Your department should cease its investigative activity and refrain from taking any action in furtherance of these investigations, including public statements or court filings related to the investigation,” Bonta directed.
Here’s an analysis of what we know from Times reporting:
The investigation has been ongoing for several months and has raised concerns that the sheriff’s department was targeting Kuehl and Gigans for political reasons. The department denies this, and Villanueva claims she withdrew from the investigation.
But last week when the department issued search warrants at Kuehl’s home and other locations, it conducted additional investigations.
A copy of the warrant revealed that the search was linked to Gigan’s ongoing investigation into contracts awarded to Violence at the non-profit Peace. Sheriff’s investigators also searched Gigan’s home, his non-profit offices, the offices of the LA County Hall of Administration, and the headquarters of the county’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which awarded the contract to Giggons’ organization. The search warrant for Kuehl’s home authorized investigators to confiscate any documents or electronic files “relating to a peace-over-violence contract takeover”.
The warrant says the focus is a series of contracts worth more than $800,000 that Metro awarded to a nonprofit between 2014 and 2020 to operate a hotline to report sexual harassment on public transportation. The statement said the hotline was a “complete failure”, but that the contract was still extended without competitive bidding or analysis.
According to the investigator’s statement attached to the warrant, a whistleblower, whose name was modified, told sheriff’s investigators that the contract was put forward by Metro chief executive Philip Washington with “Kuehl” being in ‘good grace’. was extended.
Kuehl denied any wrongdoing and called the allegations “completely bogus”. Gigan’s attorney, Austin Dove, said the investigation was motivated by the sheriff’s oversight of contempt.
“These are third world strategies,” Dove said. “Vladimir Putin will be impressed.”
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said that, last September, sheriff’s investigators presented evidence gathered about peace-over-violence contracts and asked prosecutors to consider filing criminal charges. Prosecutors refused to find the evidence, saying “criminal conduct was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
what is next
A Superior Court judge on Tuesday restrained sheriff’s investigators from searching computers and other equipment seized last week from Kuehl and Metro. He scheduled a hearing on Thursday to discuss the challenges to the warrant and whether his decision to block the sheriff’s investigators should remain in place.