Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is making efforts to the US Senate confirmed his appointment as ambassador to Indiaa tense campaign complicated by a Republican senator whose office is trying to rekindle doubts about whether the mayor and his staff mishandled sexual-harassment allegations against a top aide.
It’s been more than 16 months since President Biden nominated Garcetti to be the US representative to the world’s largest democracy. A vote on the appointment has never been scheduled as Garcetti and his allies seek the 50 votes needed for approval.
According to the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, the mayor of Los Angeles has waited far longer — nearly 500 days — to be confirmed than any of Biden’s ambassadorial nominees.
“At some point they need to address this because it hurts our effectiveness on the world stage,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “This is a bad signal for India as it reduces the sense of recognition of their importance.”
The White House continued to show support for Garcetti, who backed the former vice president as he emerged as a strong contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Garcetti and his team focused on winning some Republican votes after at least several Democratic senators, including Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, expressed concern about the harassment allegations. In an interview last week, Garcetti said his candidacy has bipartisan support, though he declined to discuss which senators he has spoken with.
“This Indian-American relationship is critical,” Garchetti said as he rode in the Veterans Day parade in Pacoima. “So I’m optimistic because a lot of people were saying, ‘Wait until after the election.’ We can focus on that now, and I’m optimistic that we’ll get it planned and executed. I am ready to serve.”
White House Leader and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will determine whether and when to schedule a vote on India’s nomination. With Congress on more pressing business — including raising the debt ceiling to keep the government running — a vote on Garchetti could be delayed until next year.
Georgia’s Senate runoff could give Democrats the 51st senator, potentially securing another vote for Garcetti.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) has bilge is installed on the nomination of Garchetti. In a brief interview this week, she expressed doubt that the mayor would be confirmed in a lame-duck session. Asked if she believed he would ever be confirmed, Ernst said, “Maybe not.”
A staffer for one of the Democratic senators agreed that Garcetti’s path to confirmation appears murky, with his boss remaining on the fence about Garcetti’s nomination and not wanting the matter to come to a vote.
“It’s a lot like when a house is on the market for two years. You say to yourself, “There must be something wrong with this house,” said the employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the nomination process. “I just don’t see any benefit to anyone in moving this vote forward.”
But White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre told reporters in early November that the Biden administration would “continue to push for the speedy confirmation of Mayor Garcetti,” adding, “It’s important to this president, a priority for this president.”
Garcetti was stopped, at least in part, by Ernst’s friend from Iowa, Sen. Chuck Grassley, whose staff focused on allegations that the mayor ignored allegations that former top aide Rick Jacobs sexually harassed other City Hall employees.
U report released in May, Grassley’s office argued that sexual harassment allegations against Jacobs, a former deputy mayor, were “widespread, widespread and well-known.” He also concluded that “it is more likely that Mayor Garcetti personally knew or should have known about the sexual harassment.”
Grassley’s staff continues to seek information about the dispute. A spokesman for Grassley confirmed that the senator’s investigators received information last week about two new individuals who reported inappropriate behavior by Jacobs.
One of the men, a longtime community activist in Los Angeles, told The Times that he spoke to two of Grassley’s employees last week, telling them that Jacobs had greeted him at least eight times in a lewd manner — forcefully kissing him on the mouth. , and also usually grabs his buttocks.
The activist said the behavior occurred when he met with Jacobs on municipal business and at holiday parties Jacobs hosted at his home. In the latest instance, Jacobs “squeezed” his buttocks when he met Garcetti’s aide in the mayor’s office.
All the other unwanted greetings happened before Jacobs took over as mayor, the man said. He said he did not remember Garcetti witnessing such actions. He said he told his wife about the meetings, and she confirmed in a separate interview with The Times that her husband had complained about Jacobs.
The man, who is also a Democratic operative, said he did not want to be identified because he feared Garcetti or his allies might vilify him in Los Angeles political circles. He said he never complained to Garchetti or his aides for the same reason, and because he was afraid he would appear homophobic.
When contacted by Grassley’s office last week, the man said he agreed to tell his story because he thought Jacobs’ behavior seemed so brazen and routine that Garcetti should have known about it.
Grassley’s staff also confirmed that they are reviewing the testimony of another person who complained about Jacobs. In testimony last month seen by The Times, Paul Kadielski, a former member of the mayor’s communications team, said Jacobs hugged him and occasionally touched or massaged his shoulders over several years.
The adjournment was taken as part of a lawsuit v. City Matt Garza, a Los Angeles police officer who claims Jacobs touched him and made rude remarks, sometimes in front of Garchetti.
Kodielski complained that Jacobs told him he looked “strong” or “handsome.” He also testified that Jacobs also made racially and sexually inappropriate comments — behavior so common that it became a regular topic of conversation among Garcetti’s communications team.
Kodielski, who worked in Garcetti’s office from 2015 to 2020, testified that Jacobs stopped regularly touching him after Kodielski told him his behavior made him uncomfortable.
Asked if Jacobs had ever hugged or massaged him in front of Garchetti, Kadielski said, “I can’t recall a specific instance.”
Kodielski did not respond to The Times’ request for comment.
Like several others who testified, Kadielski said he took his concerns about Jacobs to his superiors at City Hall, but nothing happened. Garcetti’s representatives used the new testimony to argue that the mayor could not fix something he was not told about. Others dismissed the notion, saying that Jacobs’ bad behavior was so routine that the mayor should have known.
Jacobs denied harassing anyone, but testified he may have hugged the officer. He also said he may have made sex jokes in front of the mayor’s bodyguards.
Jacobs’ attorney did not respond to requests for comment on the two new allegations of misconduct.
Garcetti said the topic of sexual harassment allegations did not dominate his numerous meetings with senators on Zoom, by phone and in person.
“I think I’ve been clear, and I think the evidence is crystal clear, too,” Garcetti said, adding that he had no knowledge of Jacobs’ alleged misconduct. “Conversations [with senators] actually revolves around India and the strategic moment we are going through and my qualifications. I haven’t had a single conversation that didn’t end positively.”
Garcetti owes his optimism in part to Biden’s unwavering loyalty. “The president spoke to me personally,” Garchetti said. “He said, ‘Let’s do it.’ Let’s get you there.” »
Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Grassley, said this week that two additional reports on Jacobs’ conduct “raise further questions” about the accuracy of the report — commissioned by the city attorney’s office and completed by attorney Leslie Ellis — that found Garchetti, Jacobs and others did nothing bad.
Grassley intends to vote against Garcetti’s nomination when it comes to a vote by the full Senate, Foy said.
The White House called Gresley’s report on Jacobs “a job well done” and said the claims had “already been conclusively debunked” by the Ellis report and other information.
Garcetti’s parents, Gil and Sookie Garcetti, continue paying a lobbying firm push for the nomination of his son. McGuireWoods reported receiving $60,000 for the job, which the mayor said he accepted as a token of his parents’ love.
Asked if he had a backup plan in case the Senate did not approve his move to Delhi, Garcetti smiled and said, “No. I plan to get confirmation.”
Times staff member Nolan McCaskill in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.