Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s hopes of becoming the nation’s next ambassador to India appear to be, at best, on life support.
The Globe has learned that on Garcetti’s recent trip to Washington, D.C., the mayor was spotted in and around Capitol Hill, but – even while in the same building – declined to stop in the office of the one Senator that not only has definitely asked him to meet but also holds his nomination in his hands: Iowa Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley.
The mayor was seen in town making the rounds – presumably in a last ditch bid to save his nomination – mid-last week. While it is unclear exactly with whom he met, it is clear he did not meet with Grassley and/or the Senator’s team currently investigating the Mayor’s knowledge of and/or culpability in the damming sexual harassment scandal enveloping his former top aide and long-time political fixer Rick Jacobs (while Jacobs’ presence has also been reported, it has not yet been confirmed that he accompanied Garcetti on the trip or was with the Mayor in any of the other meetings).
“Our investigative staff have made multiple requests to speak with the mayor,” said Grassley communications director Taylor Foy. “However, thus far, his staff have not made an effort to schedule a discussion with investigative staff. We understand that the mayor was on Capitol Hill last week, but the mayor’s office did not schedule a meeting with Sen. Grassley’s staff despite our invitation to set up a discussion.”
Grassley put a “hold” on Garcetti’s nomination in order to further investigate allegations that Jacobs was a serial and physical sexual harasser and whether or not Garcetti lied during his Senate conformation testimony.
Initially delayed, in large part like other ambassadorial nominations due to COVID-related legislation issues, Garcetti faced his only actual Senate hearing last December. During that hearing, he was asked a single question about the behavior of Jacobs and denied even being aware of the allegations, let alone of having direct knowledge of the alleged egregious activities.
“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,” Garcetti said.
At issue are the numerous credible allegations – many made by former political allies and long-time Garcetti staffers – that Jacobs was not only a predatory sexual harasser but also that Garcetti was fully aware of the on-going situation and actively chose to ignore the problem.
It should be noted that the alleged harassment is seemingly well beyond the garden variety comments and actions that would get any other employee instantly hauled into human resources for, at least, a stern warning and would, in fact, make the writers of “Mad Men” blush. They involve physically grabbing people and making very crude and very overt suggestions and comments to both male and female staffers – a deeper dive into the specifics of the allegations the history between Jacobs and Garcetti shows this.
After possibly lying to the Senate, the mayor’s former communications director, Naomi Seligman, filed perjury complaints again Garcetti with numerous law enforcement agencies and government boards and commissions.
It is this complaint, plus other information, that led Grassley to ask for more time to investigate Garcetti’s actions and delay his confirmation.
Grassley’s office said the investigation is nearing completion and remains open to talking to the Mayor. Whether or not any such meeting would impact the findings of and/or delay the report remains unclear.
The man who could push a vote on Garcetti’s nomination – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has reportedly “privately acknowledged” that the Mayor does not have enough votes for confirmation, though President Biden has said he will continue to back Garcetti.
Calls to the Mayor’s office for comment – like calls to Schumer’s office – went unanswered.