Investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department executed a search warrant Wednesday morning at the Santa Monica home of County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
The reason for the search was not immediately known. However, the Sheriff’s Department has been investigating a nonprofit, Peace Over Violence, which is run by a close associate of Kuehl’s, the Los Angeles Times reports.
That friend, Patti Giggans, is also a member of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission and has clashed with Villanueva. Giggans’ home and officers were also searched.
Authorities also served a warrant at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority headquarters building.
The investigation involves allegations that the nonprofit was improperly awarded a series of contracts pushed by Kuehl’s office.
Kuehl was home at the time when investigators arrived around 7 a.m. Wednesday and spoke to reporters outside shortly afterward.
“This strikes me as being part of a sort of bogus, non-investigation. There is no investigation going on that would support this warrant,” Kuehl said.
In a statement, she later added that the search warrant was politically motivated.
“This morning’s storming of my home by deputies with bulletproof vests and tactical gear was an effort to harass, intimidate and retaliate against a public figure who has been an outspoken critic of L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. I am not the only such critic, and other courageous County leaders have also been the targets of this Sheriff’s vindictiveness,” she said.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin came to the defense of Kuehl and blasted Sheriff Alex Villanueva on social media.
“A corrupt sheriff with a track record of abusing his power and trying to silence and intimidate his critics is conducting a bogus, vindictive, politically motivated witch hunt against @SheilaKuehl, a public official of the highest integrity,” Bonin tweeted.
Villanueva said he has recused himself from this investigation, deferring to Undersheriff Tim Murakami.
He did, however, accuse county Inspector General Max Huntsman of tipping off Kuehl and Gibbans the night before the warrant was served. He’s asking state Attorney General Rob Bonta to investigate.
Huntsman denied the claim, according to the Times.
“But [Villanueva] is right about one thing: The phone records will show whether I tipped them off or not. I didn’t,” he said.
If Kuehl or another party decides to challenge the search warrant in court, L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón said his office won’t defend it, as they declined to pursue a case when the LASD presented it in September 2021.
Gascón added that his office was not “consulted or aware of the search warrants that were served today.”
“In this case, because we did not review the warrant beforehand, we do not intend to defend it if challenged in court,” he added.