Here are the major players behind the alleged contract scandal at LA Metro

Some big names and big offices in Los Angeles County politics and government were named in the search warrant that sent detectives to the Santa Monica home of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who is also a member of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) Board of Directors.

The Sheriff’s Department also served a search warrant at the home of Patricia “Patti” Giggans, a member of the Los Angeles County Civilian Oversight Commission, appointed by Kuehl. The nine-member oversight commission advises the Board of Supervisors and was created to increase transparency and accountability at the Sheriff’s Department.

Giggans is also executive director of Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit that advocates for victims of sexual abuse and harassment and delivers intervention, education and emergency services. POV operates LA Metro’s “Off Limits” sexual harassment counseling hotline, and the hotline staff work out of an LA Metro office on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

The three other locations searched by L.A. County sheriff’s detectives were the offices of the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration, where the Board of Supervisors meets and members have offices, as do many county staff; the headquarters of the county’s transit agency, LA Metro; and the headquarters of Peace Over Violence. Metro responded with a statement on Wednesday saying it is “fully cooperating with LASD to comply with the search warrant.”

Here’s a brief look at some of those named in the search warrant:

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl is a former TV star elected to the Board of Supervisors in November 2014. She also served in the state Senate and state Assembly. Kuehl represents the sprawling Third Supervisorial District, which takes in the Westside and much of the San Fernando Valley. She is retiring and is not running for re-election. According to the search warrant, at issue is a sole-source contract with Peace Over Violence to run a sexual harassment hotline for LA Metro. A sole-source contract is awarded without competitive bidding, and the warrant alleges this was the case in the contract between LA Metro and Peace Over Violence. The three-year, $496,000 contract dated Feb. 15, 2019, was awarded to POV/Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans by LA Metro, the search warrant says. Over several years, the nonprofit POV received $890,000 from LA Metro, according to the document. The search warrant says Kuehl and Giggans are good friends. It alleges a conflict of interest, claiming that thousands of dollars in campaign contributions flowed to Kuehl from Giggans. Kuehl told Fox News she has done nothing wrong.

Patricia “Patti” Giggans has been advocating for women’s rights, focused on domestic violence and sexual harassment, for more than 50 years. Her first organization was the Los Angeles Commission on Assault Against Women, formed in the 1970s. She is now executive director of Peace Over Violence, which received contracts to run a hotline to report sexual harassment and abuse on Metro trains and buses. The search warrant called the hotline “a failure,” citing a low volume of calls. An unnamed witness who worked at LA Metro — believed to be whistleblower Jennifer Loew — brought the contracts to the attention of the Sheriff’s Department, alleging “there was a ‘corrupt agreement’ between Kuehl and Giggans to award and receive the sole source contracts in return for campaign donations, political power, and continued opportunities to enrich each other in a variety of ways.” Giggans did not return messages left with her agency Wednesday.

Phillip Washington is a former chief executive officer of LA Metro. He resigned in May 2021 after he declined to renew his contract. He led the transportation agency for six years. In the search warrant, the witness who worked at LA Metro said there was no reason for the agency to award POV a sole source contract. The witness told Sheriff’s Department detectives that other nonprofits could have provided the hotline service at no charge to LA Metro. The warrant said Washington approved payment of the contract to avoid upsetting Kuehl. The witness claimed the contract was “pushed forward by CEO Phillip Washington in order to remain ‘in good graces’ with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.” The warrant said a bill for $75,000 from Peace Over Violence arrived on the witness’s desk and when she confronted Washington, he said she should pay it via the purchase order process — normally used for office supplies. The warrant said Washington told the witness he did not want to upset Supervisor Kuehl’s friends by disputing the bill.

Related links

L.A. County sheriff searches offices of LA Metro, oversight board member in criminal probe
Sheriff’s Department serves search warrant at LA Supervisor Kuehl’s home
Elections 2022: One calm race, and one spicy race, in First and Third LA County supervisorial districts
Sheriff Villanueva wants to cross-examine witnesses and preview exhibits before testifying before civilian oversight panel
LA Metro CEO Phillip Washington to step down in May

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