A new Senate report concludes that Eric Garcetti “likely knew or should have known” about alleged sexual harassment by a former top aide, despite the Los Angeles mayor’s denial that he was aware of such conduct.
The report and investigation, conducted by Senate staff at the request of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), raises new doubts about Garcetti’s pending nomination to be ambassador to India.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared Garcetti’s nomination with no opposition earlier this year, but a whistleblower, Garcetti’s former communications director Naomi Seligman, has led an effort for a more thorough investigation. Grassley put a hold on the nomination and initiated the probe in March.
Rick Jacobs, who served as deputy chief of staff and later an outside adviser, was accused of improper conduct in a 2020 lawsuit filed by Los Angeles Police Department Officer Matthew Garza, who claims Garcetti witnessed the behavior but turned a blind eye to it. Jacobs has denied the claims.
“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,” the report concludes. (Read it here).
Garcetti has denied the allegations in the past — and did so again during his hearing, telling the Senate panel he has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment. The mayor has claimed he didn’t know about Garza’s accusations until the lawsuit became public in July 2020.
But the report says that the “testimony and documents reviewed by investigators, when considered alongside Mr. Jacobs’ own admissions, the mayor’s admission of his awareness of Mr. Jacobs’ habits to kiss and hug others, and the apparent frequency, notoriety, and widespread acknowledgment of Mr. Jacobs’ behavior by so many individuals both inside and outside City Hall who interacted with the Mayor’s office, weigh strongly against the notion that the Mayor had no knowledge of it. It is extremely unlikely that he would not have been aware of Mr. Jacobs’ behavior.”
Grassley’s staff said that Jacobs and 11 individuals currently working for or close to the mayor declined to speak to them. They also said that Garcetti refused to meet after an interview was requested on three different occasions.
A spokesperson for Garcetti did not immediately return a request for comment.