More than four months after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was announced as President Biden’s choice to become US ambassador to India, the mayor is still awaiting a hearing and vote for a central Senate committee that will consider his nomination.
Garcetti, who traveled to Washington again this week, is due to have a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Other Biden nominees have appeared on the panel – a sign that Democrats have prioritized other candidates over the LA mayor.
Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a controversial Biden candidate who has been criticized for his administration’s handling of the police shooting of a teenager, appeared before the committee in October. The panel voted this month to advance his nomination to become ambassador to Japan to the full Senate.
As part of their review of Garcetti, senators are investigating allegations stemming from a lawsuit against the city regarding sexual harassment involving Garcetti’s former adviser. The lawsuit has led to dismissals in which former employees have said that it was common knowledge in Garcetti’s office that the counselor acted sexually inappropriate towards male employees.
Juan Pachón, communications director for Senator Robert Menendez (DN.J.), chairman of the State Committee, told The Times that the committee “carefully examines each nominee and does so for Mayor Garcetti.”
“We review these allegations in detail and treat them with the same due diligence as we do for each nominee for our committee,” Pachón said when asked about the lawsuit involving Garcetti’s adviser.
In his statement to The Times, Pachón alluded to Republican efforts to slow down the overall confirmation process for Biden’s nominees by withholding the nominee. Late. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has used practice in relation to his demand that the United States impose sanctions on the construction of a Russian pipeline.
“As close to 50 critical national security nominations are blocked on the Senate floor, and with dozens more on the way through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the committee’s ability to investigate nominees, convene hearings and schedule votes unfortunately takes longer than usual,” Pachón said.
Some politicians have publicly expressed support for Garcetti’s confirmation in the midst of the congestion.
“As the son of an ambassador who served in several positions in Asia, I hope we can manage our U.S. Asia team quickly,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.) wrote in a tweet last month, mentioning Garcetti and other Biden nominees.
Garcetti’s office declined to answer questions about the slow pace of his confirmation. His office also declined to comment when asked if Garcetti had meetings related to his India nomination while in Washington this week. Garcetti attended Biden’s signing of its infrastructure package on Monday.
Los Angeles Police Officer Matthew Garza sued the city in July 2020, alleging that former Garcetti adviser Rick Jacobs made harsh remarks and touched him inappropriately. Garza claims that Garcetti and the mayor’s staff saw Jacob’s behavior but did nothing to stop it. In some cases, Garcetti laughed at Jacobs’ harsh remarks, the lawsuit claims.
Both Garcetti and Jacobs deny the allegations. In his own episode, Jacobs denies harassing anyone sexually, but admitted he could have hugged members of the security detail and made sexual jokes.
In depositions, a former employee of Garcetti’s office described that he was receiving unwanted massage from Jacobs, and another former employee talked about being forcibly kissed on the mouth by him.
Two former employees also wrote texts in which they discussed Jacobs’ inappropriate behavior towards male employees, and these texts were produced during the presentations. An additional male employee – who was later revealed to be Garcetti’s longtime spokesman – wrote a text message to another former aide saying he had been “hit” again by Jacobs. The mayor’s office told The Times that the male employee denied having experienced sexual harassment.
A complaint about Jacobs’ alleged behavior towards Garcetti’s former chief of staff, Ana Guerrero, did not result in anything, one of the employees said. Another said he was worried about being blackmailed by the office.
Garcetti, his wife, Amy Wakeland and Guerrero discussed at various times Jacobs’ allegedly sexually harassing behavior when Garza was present, one of Garza’s lawyers has said. Garcetti, Wakeland and Guerrero deny these allegations.
Garcetti has in his own statement said he did not see Jacob touching Garza inappropriately. He also said he did not hear Jacobs speak explicitly about sex, saying such behavior would be “completely out of character” for his former counselor.
Guerrero even made a sexually oriented comment about a newly hired city planning director on a private Facebook group. She was later put on leave for the postings she made in the Facebook group, which included mockery of City Hall aides and politicians – comments that for some revealed a desolate and vengeful culture in the mayor’s office.
Asked in August by The Times about alleged retaliation that took place in his office, Garcetti declined to comment because of the ongoing lawsuit in Jacobs’ case. But he spoke in person, saying, “You ask if I saw it, if I did? No, that’s the only thing I can talk to.”