Senate Investigation Brings More Bad News for a Biden Nominee

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Posted: May 10, 2022 7:00 PM
Senate Investigation Brings More Bad News for a Biden Nominee

Source: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Eric Garcetti, the current mayor of Los Angeles and President Biden's nominee to be ambassador to India, likely knew of a senior aide's pattern of harassment according to an investigation conducted by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). This conclusion by senate investigators makes Garcetti's already stalled nomination even more problematic to President Biden who hasn't been great at picking qualified candidates for key posts who could sail through the confirmation process. 

According to a memo from Grassley, the investigation into accusations of harassment within Garcetti's office began after "whistleblowers" came to the Iowa Republican with "allegations that Mr. Garcetti, while Mayor of Los Angeles, was aware that his Deputy Chief of Staff, Rick Jacobs, had sexually harassed multiple individuals and made racist and derogatory comments towards others." Worse yet, the whistleblowers claimed that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee "had not previously investigated their claims."

Grassley's subsequent investigation involved interviews with 15 witnesses, a review of 26 depositions that came from a civil suit against Jacobs and a City of Los Angeles report, as well as emails and text messages that were turned over to investigators. Despite the Grassley investigators' attempts to speak with the individuals at the center of the allegations, Jacobs and 11 other people "working for or close to Mayor Garcetti refused" to speak with investigators. Garcetti himself refused three separate requests to talk with investigators. 

The full memo on the methodology and specific sources of information can be found here, but the conclusion is what's most problematic for Mayor Garcetti and President Biden who nominated him to represent the United States in India:

Based on information obtained by Committee investigators, it is more probable than not that Mr. Jacobs sexually harassed multiple individuals, and made racist comments towards others. Based on witness testimony, this behavior was pervasive, widespread, and notorious. Several individuals told investigators that Mayor Garcetti was aware of this behavior, and based on the reported frequency and conspicuous nature of the conduct, it is more likely than not that Mayor Garcetti either had personal knowledge of the sexual harassment or should have been aware of it.

We reach these conclusions based on witness testimony, documents, physical evidence, and Mr. Jacobs’ own admissions. 

In weighing this evidence, investigators reviewed 18 depositions in which the individuals, all of whom worked for or remained close to the Mayor, claimed they never witnessed any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Jacobs. Five of those individuals also spoke with investigators. Many of those individuals appear to lack credibility because their statements were contradicted by admissions made by Mr. Jacobs himself, text messages obtained by investigators, or the photographic evidence of him sexually harassing someone in the presence of the Mayor. At least one text message investigators reviewed expressed a desire to avoid reporting or discussing Mr. Jacobs’ behavior in order to shield the mayor. 

Grassley's memo then lays out the evidence that led investigators to conclude Garcetti was aware of Jacobs' harassment on multiple occasions, including photos, text messages, and earlier sworn depositions:

  • Rick Jacobs sexually harassed another individual in Mayor Garcetti’s presence and a photo of the incident was widely circulated among staff. 
  • Rick Jacobs likely sexually harassed Matt Garza in the presence of the Mayor. 
  • Rick Jacobs likely sexually harassed Naomi Seligman. 
  • Rick Jacobs likely sexually harassed an individual at the U.S. China Summit.
  • Rick Jacobs made multiple racist comments. 
  • Rick Jacobs’ reputation for sexually harassing others was well known both inside and outside of City Hall.
  • People close to the Mayor appeared jubilated when news broke regarding claims of sexual harassment by Mr. Jacobs.

The Grassley memo ends stating that, "Based on a preponderance of the evidence, we conclude that Mayor Garcetti likely knew or should have known that Rick Jacobs was sexually harassing multiple individuals and making racist comments towards others."

President Biden named Garcetti as his pick for ambassador to India back in July of 2021, but, as Townhall reported in April, the odds of successful confirmation in the 50-50 split senate were not in Garcetti's favor:

The reservations from Democrats about Biden's nominee lie mostly with the desire for more information about "allegations of workplace sexual harassment" that took place within Garcetti's administration. Democrats including Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have voiced their concerns with what Garcetti knew or how his mayoral office is run.

Following Grassley's findings, it looks increasingly likely that Mayor Garcetti is headed for a growing pile of flopped Biden nominees including Saule Omarova who was put forward to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and David Chipman who Biden tried to place in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.