Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s bid to become U.S. ambassador to India was put on hold Thursday as Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced his plan to delay a vote on the nomination to investigate whether Garcetti ignored allegations of sexual assault and harassment against his former top advisor, Rick Jacobs.
In a letter obtained by Politico, Grassley asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to delay a vote on Garcetti while investigators from his office look into claims that the mayor ignored accusations of sexual misconduct by Jacobs.
“The United States owes it to the Republic of India to send them a qualified Ambassador that will represent the values of the United States,” Grassley wrote.
In the request—which Grassley states “is intended to be made publicly”—he adds, “Mayor Garcetti may very well be fully qualified, but at this time, the Senate needs to look into these allegations further.”
The allegations come from a variety of men and women.
There was former Garcetti communications director Naomi Seligman, who claims that Jacobs, who is openly gay, held her and forcibly kissed her on the lips. She also testified in a lawsuit that she witnessed Jacobs sexually harassing a police officer on the mayor’s security detail.
That officer was Matthew Garza, a veteran LAPD cop who claimed in a 2020 lawsuit against the city that Garcetti ignored a pattern of sexual harassment by Jacobs, including inappropriately hugging and groping co-workers and making inappropriate sexual remarks.
In January, after Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to advance Garcetti’s nomination, Seligman told Los Angeles, “I think there is still time for senators to understand how the mayor witnessed, tolerated, and enabled abuse. And still time for them to ask the hard questions they’ve avoided until now.”
Appearing before the Foreign Relations Committee in December, Garcetti said under oath, “I want to say unequivocally that I never witnessed, nor was it brought to my attention, the behavior that’s been alleged, and I also want to assure you if it had been, I would have immediately taken action to stop that.”
In his letter to McConnell, Grassley says his people have been in contact with individuals who “have not previously spoken to the Foreign Relations Committee, and are presenting new allegations that must be fully investigated.”
A Grassley aide also tells Politico, “We were connected with one whistleblower, and since our initial conversations, we’ve been able to learn more from additional sources which seem to corroborate that the mayor was aware of this activity.”
Garcetti’s office told Politico it’s looking into the matter and declined to comment further.
The White House said in statement Thursday, “Mayor Garcetti has been clear that he takes any allegations of harassment very seriously and has made clear this type of misconduct is unacceptable in his office in any form. He has also said that he never witnessed this behavior nor was told about it prior to the litigation. The president has confidence in Mayor Garcetti and believes he’ll be an excellent representative in India.”
Jacobs has denied any wrongdoing.
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