DENVER, CO - JUNE 29 : Phil Washington, the nominee to become the new CEO at Denver International Airport, poses for a portrait at the airport in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
CNN  — 

The White House plans to allow the nomination process to play out for President Joe Biden’s pick to be the next administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, Phil Washington, after his name emerged in a recent search warrant issued as part of a political corruption investigation in Los Angeles.

The warrant – issued earlier this month on multiple locations, including the home of Los Angeles County Supervisor for District 3 Sheila Kuehl – sought more information related to potential favoritism in the awarding of contracts by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority. The contracts were sole-sourced to a nonprofit run by a friend of Kuehl.

The nonprofit, called Peace Over Violence, set up a sexual harassment hotline in tandem with the transit authority. A copy of the warrant posted to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department website shows that the department is seeking correspondence from several people, including Washington.

Washington served as CEO of the transit authority for six years and whistleblower allegations laid out in the warrant accuse him of pushing forward sole-sourcing the contract to the nonprofit “to remain ‘in good graces’” with Kuehl, one of his direct supervisors. The warrant also alleges that Washington ordered that a bill of $75,000 be paid to the nonprofit through a purchase order process typically reserved for office supplies.

“The Witness further stated that Phillip Washington told her directly, that he would rather pay the $75,000, so he could later use that to his advantage when he needed a political favor from … Kuehl,” the warrant stated.

Washington, currently the CEO of the Denver International Airport, is denying the allegations laid out in the warrant, telling Bloomberg Government on Thursday: “All the allegations are false.” CNN has reached out to Washington for comment.

The hotline has also been criticized for its high cost to taxpayers. In 2020, a FOX 11 investigation reported that the hotline was costing taxpayers some $8,000 per call, based on the small number of relevant, sexual harassment-related calls being made to the phone number.

Peace Over Violence defended its work, saying in a statement to Fox 11 in 2020, “This calculation of $8,000 per call is social math that does not express the severity of sexual harassment or the seriousness of the issue. … . According to our contract, all calls coming into the hotline are legitimate. POV reports the sexual harassment calls to Metro as per their instruction. We cannot put a price tag on serving a survivor of violence and there are no quotas associated with our hotlines. We are there to serve the people that call 24/7. This is not a fee per survivor service. Metro is paying for the program, not per survivor.”

CNN has reached out to Peace Over Violence for comment.

Biden nominated Washington to lead the FAA in July. Asked for comment about the warrant, and whether the President still has confidence in his FAA nominee, a White House official told CNN, “His nomination is working its way through the Senate and will be evaluated through that process. We’re going to let that process play out, but don’t have anything more.”

Washington has not been scheduled for a confirmation hearing yet, and the leading Republican on the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation – which is considering his nomination – expressed concerns this week following news of the warrant.

“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,” Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, the leading Republican on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said in a statement.

Wicker added, “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.”

Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, the chair of the committee, told CNN in a statement, “The FAA requires strong leadership, and safety must always be the top priority. Every nominee for this critical position is subject to the confirmation process, which includes a careful and thorough review of the individual’s qualifications. Mr. Washington’s nomination and all of his background is undergoing that process now.”

Washington was appointed to his current role as the chief executive officer of the Denver International Airport – the third busiest airport in the world – last year. He also led the Biden-Harris Transportation Department transition team and co-chaired the Biden/Harris Infrastructure Policy Committee.

The Denver airport role was Washington’s first major leadership role solely focused on aviation. Some critics, including Wicker, have expressed skepticism about supporting Washington’s nomination based on his broader lack of aviation industry experience.

Still, prior to news of the warrant, Washington had already garnered the endorsements of industry groups. Another early endorser, Colorado Democrat and Senate Commerce committee member John Hickenlooper, is continuing to stand by Washington following the warrant, his office told CNN.

The search warrant is the latest development in ongoing contention between Kuehl, her colleagues on the county’s board of supervisors and LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Villanueva has been embroiled in a number of controversies during his tenure as sheriff and has a history of targeting reporters and his critics. Kuehl, an outspoken critic of Villanueva, has said she had nothing to do with the contract and suggested she’s being targeted.

“The basis of this search was questionable and will be investigated. This morning’s storming of my home by deputies with bulletproof vests & tactical gear was an effort to harass, intimidate & retaliate against a public figure who has been an outspoken critic of Alex Villanueva,” Kuehl tweeted, adding, “Today’s early morning search of my home was a thuggish attempt to intimidate and silence not just me but many other public servants who are working hard to rebuild the trust between law enforcement and the communities it is supposed to serve.”

Villanueva has recused himself from the investigation.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement that they were not made aware of the search warrant or consulted beforehand, and since they did not review the warrant ahead of its execution they “do not intend to defend it if challenged in court.” Gascon added that the case was previously reviewed by the his office last year and it “determined that the state of evidence at the time did not prove criminal conduct beyond a reasonable doubt.”