President Biden still wants embattled former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to be the next ambassador to India, despite allegations that Garcetti was an ‘enabler’ of sexual harassment during his time in office.
Garcetti was first nominated by Biden in 2021, but the nomination stalled for months and petered out when the last Congress closed after Republicans highlighted the sexual harassment scandal. Nonetheless, Biden renominated Garcetti this week as the 118th Congress kicked off on Tuesday.
‘He is well qualified — Mayor Garcetti — to serve in this vital role,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre said Tuesday. ‘And we’re hopeful that the full Senate will confirm him promptly.’
The scandal involves a pending lawsuit against Rick Jacobs, Garcetti’s former chief of staff. Jacobs is accused of sexual harassment in the form of inappropriate comments, unwanted kissing and touching and sexual advances against a male LAPD officer assigned to Garcetti’s security detail, as well as a male reporter, the fiancé of an office communications director and other whistleblowers.
Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, opened an investigation into the matter, and his office conducted interviews with 15 witnesses and examined 26 depositions and other documentary evidence, including emails and text messages. Grassley’s investigative staff concluded that Garcetti ‘likely knew, or should have known, that his former senior advisor was sexually harassing and making racist remarks toward multiple individuals.’
‘Nobody is that brazen to engage in this type of outrageous behavior against other people unless they know that they have a powerful enabler protecting them. Based on the facts and the evidence, that enabler is Mayor Eric Garcetti,’ Grassley said last month.
‘Despite attempts by Mayor Garcetti and the Biden administration to frame complaints against him as a political hit job, some of the individuals who’ve come forward and shed light on the misconduct are from Mayor Garcetti’s own staff,’ Grassley added.
Garcetti had testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year that he was only made aware of the allegations when the lawsuit was filed, and had no prior knowledge of the allegations. The White House previously called Grassley’s investigation a partisan ‘hit job.’
Grassley said Thursday that Biden’s push to confirm Garcetti is worrying after Biden last month signed into law the bipartisan Speak Out Act, which protects victims of sexual assault or harassment by prohibiting employers from hiding behind non-disclosure agreements, entered into before a dispute occurs.
‘Continuing to push this nominee after signing that bill into law is the very definition of tone deafness,’ Grassley said.
‘Unfortunately, the Biden administration is sending a message to victims of sexual harassment in the workplace that they’ll only be believed when politically convenient,’ he added.