Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has announced that he is banning Inspector General Max Huntsman from the department’s facilities and databases, escalating a years-long conflict with the county watchdog in charge of overseeing the Sheriff’s Department, reports Alene Tchekmedyian for the Los Angeles Times. Huntsman has said repeatedly that Villanueva has routinely broken the law when trying to circumvent his authority to oversee the sheriff and his department.
The Sheriff’s Department has been investigating Huntsman since at least 2019, alleging that he and members of his staff stole confidential files the department keeps on high-ranking officials. Huntsman has said his office accessed the files in the course of his normal job duties and has yet to be charged with any crimes in the three years since. Supervisor Janice Hahn called Villanueva’s decision “yet another attempt by the Sheriff to block effective oversight of his department,” adding that it is a direct response to the sheriff’s recent designation as a suspect in a second criminal investigation surrounding the raids on the home and office of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl last month.