*This story is an exclusive for The Current Report and TNT Radio originally airing on 12/28/22.
Over the Christmas holiday, air travelers scrambled amidst the chaos of winter storms and the unprecedented last minute cancellation of all flights by Southwest Airlines. , the result was thousands of stranded and disgruntled passengers. And now it looks like the future of the FAA, without leadership since March, looks even more bleak as embattled former LA Metro CEO Phillip Washington’s nomination to head the agency will be back on the president’s desk.
Biden hand-picked Washington in July to head the FAA despite the knowledge of multiple on-going local and federal criminal investigations which have resulted in setbacks and lengthening the confirmation process.
Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, who heads the panel that overseas the FAA, said she planned to hold a hearing for the current Denver International Airport CEO to head the FAA after the new Congress convenes in January. However, before those hearings can take place, under Senate Rule 31, Biden will have to renominate Washington.
“The F.A.A. has a crucial safety mandate, and filling this role remains a serious priority for the Biden administration,” said White House spokeswoman, Olivia Dalton. Yet the agency continues to go without leadership going on a year now.
Washington’s history with the Biden administration goes back to 2020 where he lead the transition team for Transportation, which included the FAA, with no aviation experience at the time. Only in the past year has he delved into the industry sliding into the CEO spot Denver’s International Airport. To many, including members of the Senate Committee (other than Cantwell) Washington’s lack of experience presents numerous red flags when considering the experience of former heads of the FAA who have been CEOs of major airlines and/or have extensive aviation experience in the military.
Aside from Washington’s troubling lack of aviation experience which is vital when you are responsible for the health and safety of millions of passengers, is the public corruption, fraud, abuse, and discrimination allegations.
On September 14th, as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department descended upon multiple locations serving criminal warrants including LA Metro Headquarters, mainstream media has led us to believe the corruption at LA Metro under Washington was merely a “dispute” between former LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and disgraced former supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
However, when we remove the false political narrative crafted by the White House under the President and in collaboration with current leaders in LA Politics including Barack Obama’s former labor secretary and current LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, and California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a bigger story of gender discrimination, anti-semitism and attacks against the LGBTQ and AAPI communities emerges.
The Current Report broke the story of the raids and the LA County Sheriff’s Department served criminal warrants on LA Metro Headquarters shortly after 7 AM.
BREAKING: #LASD serving warrants in multiple locations in the criminal case involving @metrolosangeles @SheilaKuehl , Patti Giggans, @PeaceOvrViolnce & Phil Washington currently in nomination process by @JoeBiden for head of FAA. pic.twitter.com/cnu4ncwse3
— Cece Woods (@ceceswoods) September 14, 2022
Washington was named in the criminal warrants along with then LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and her friend and CEO of Peace Over Violence, Patti Giggans. The local criminal investigation spanning three-years under the supervision of Undersheriff Tim Murakami, resulted in Sheriff deputies executing warrants at multiple locations which included the homes of Supervisor Kuehl and Giggans. Deputies seized documents and evidence to support allegations of fraud, abuse and Pay-to-Play at LA Metro.
Shortly after the warrants made national news, sources inside the White House told The Current Report members of the Secret Service delivered copies of the warrant to President Biden who sources say ordered an investigation as to why the FBI was not involved.
Multiple DC agencies and watchdog organizations reached out to The Current Report shortly after Washington’s nomination in July after making startling discoveries online of Washington’s alleged criminal activities including the counterfeit mask cover-up exposed by The Current Report. Our story led to two federal investigations.
The criminal warrants naming Washington lead to a statement released by Senator Robert Wicker, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, whose office contacted The Current Report shortly before its official release:
“When Mr. Washington was nominated in July, I expressed my skepticism surrounding his lack of experience in aviation. Now I am deeply troubled to learn the nominee was named in a search warrant that ties him to allegations of corruption at LA Metro,” Wicker said. “The committee’s vetting process will require additional scrutiny and review into his leadership at LA Metro. I anticipate that this nominee’s credibility will also be a key focus of the committee.”
Washington, backed into a corner once the news of the warrants hit Washington DC, was confronted at the Air Line Pilots Association conference. “All the allegations are false,” he said. However, The Current Report published emails supporting Washington had knowledge of the Peace Over Violence contract contrary to his statement to the ALPA.
In July, when Washington’s confirmation was announced, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) made the following statement:
“America’s aviation industry is facing important challenges in a competitive global marketplace. Now more than ever, FAA must set the gold standard in aviation safety. This starts from the top. I expect and will require strong leadership from the next FAA Administrator. I look forward to careful consideration of Mr. Washington’s nomination during the confirmation process.”
On November 1st, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, who heads the panel that overseas the FAA met with whistleblowers regarding Phillip Washington’s alleged misconduct and corruption at LA Metro.
Despite being informed of additional allegations of gender discrimination, antisemitism and attacks on the LGBTQ and AAPI community during that meeting, Cantwell continued with her support for Washington and announced she planned to hold a hearing for Washington to head the FAA after the new Congress convenes in January.
Cantwell and her office seem to be unconcerned by Washington’s egregious behavior and during the meetings with the whistleblowers, Ronce Almond, Senior Counsel at the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee and the Subcommittee on Aviation equated the alleged gender discrimination against woman as “funny” even going as far as calling it “dark humor”.
“It is personally troubling that President Biden believes Washington is qualified to run the FAA, let alone mentally fit.” said whistleblower and Public Corruption Specialist Adam Loew. “The evidence that I have seen leads me to believe that Washington is anti-jew, anti-AAPI, anti-latino, anti-woman and anti-American family leader, who has been personally involved if defrauding that American taxpayer.” It is unfortunate that Senator Cantwell has condoned this behavior and while it looks as if Cantwell may be a friend of Israel for political gain, he behavior presents her as one of America’s anti-jewish senators. As for Ronce Almond expressing misogyny and gender discrimination is a joke or ‘dark humor’ only shows that Cantwell has no control over discrimination on Commerce”.
In July of 2021, attorneys for Phillip Washington threatened federal whistleblowers with a lawsuit in violation of California and federal anti-slapp laws for bringing misconduct to the attention of the media and authorities. In the letter, Washington’s lawyer also eludes to him suffering from “intentional infliction of emotional distress”.
Additionally, the letter indicates the whistleblowers “have caused publications falsely stating or implying that Mr. Washington was connected to or responsible for missing or misappropriated funds at LA Metro and the publication(s) have no factual support, are false, and violate the rights of Mr. Washington”.
The Current Report has been exposing the public corruption and discrimination under Washington at LA Metro since 2020 supported by documentation and evidence in each article contrary to the claims made by Washington’s lawyer in the letter. The Current Report has never received communication from Washington or his counsel, let alone a cease and desist.
To date, no litigation have been filed against the whistleblowers and they continue to cooperate with the Senate Committee exposing Washington’s criminal misconduct.
As previously reported in the Current Report, some of the allegations included that Washington may have been involved in the deaths of multiple bus drivers and train operators when he failed to replace counterfeit Personal Protection Equipment during the early days in the pandemic.
The counterfeit mask cover-up should serve as a reminder that Washington’s questionable decision making in public safety at LA Metro could lead larger scale disasters should he be confirmed to head the FAA.
In May of 2021, Washington left Los Angeles after his contract was not renewed by former mayor Eric Garcetti. Washington then slid into the CEO position at Denver International Airport despite the absence of aviation experience and after he lied to Denver City Council that he was not involved in warrants.
Had Denver officials had done their due diligence, they would have discovered Washington is no stranger to the criminal warrant process or federal indictments including in their own back yard.
Washington left his post as Denver RTD’s General Manager to join L.A. Metro as CEO in May of 2015, however, back at Denver RTD the consequences of Phillip Washington’s public corruption were leading to the imprisonment of one of Denver RTD’s Senior Leadership Team and a direct report of Washington.
Kenneth Hardin, Director of the Denver RTD Civil Rights Division, was convicted in February of 2015 on three counts related to accepting bribes in connection with his official duties as a senior manager at RTD and was sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison.
Federal Investigators were able to prove in Federal Court that that under Phillip Washington’s leadership at Denver RTD, Hardin had exchanged contracts for cash and Hardin had lobbied RTD to renew Access-a-Ride contracts in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Washington is currently involved in another Federal investigation with shamed LA City Councilman Gilbert Cedillo and Current LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis after 1.2 million Dollar Pay to Play deal for LA failed Westlake MacArthur Park Project.
As if this couldn’t get any more attention…
This is a developing story.