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Garcetti is pushing hard to be confirmed as Biden’s US ambassador to India.


With less than a month to go, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is stepping up efforts to get the US Senate to confirm his nomination as ambassador to India, a tense campaign complicated by a Republican senator whose office is trying to to revive doubts. whether the mayor and his staff mishandled sexual harassment allegations against a senior aide.

It’s been more than 16 months since President Biden appointed Garcetti as the United States’ representative to the world’s largest democracy. A vote on the nomination was never scheduled, as Garcetti and his allies strive to achieve the 50 votes needed for approval.

The Los Angeles mayor has waited far longer for confirmation — nearly 500 days — than any other Biden has nominated as ambassadors, according to the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service.

“At some point, they have to fix this because our effectiveness on the world stage is compromised,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “This is a bad signal for India as it diminishes the sense of recognition of their importance.”

The White House continued to voice support for Garcetti, who backed the former vice president when he appeared from afar for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Garcetti and his team have been focused on securing some Republican votes, after at least a few Democratic senators, including Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono, raised concerns about the harassment allegations. In an interview last week, Garcetti said his nomination had bipartisan support, though he declined to discuss which senators he had spoken to.

“That Indo-American relationship is key,” Garcetti said as he took part in a Veterans Day parade in Pacoima. “So I’m optimistic because a lot of people have said, ‘Wait until after the election. We can focus on it now and I’m optimistic we’ll schedule it and get it done. I am ready to serve.

The White House and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will determine whether and when to call a vote on India’s nomination. With a crush of more pressing business facing Congress — including raising the debt ceiling to keep government running — the Garcetti vote could be delayed until next year.

A Senate runoff in Georgia could give Democrats a 51st senator, potentially delivering one more pro-Garcetti vote.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) suspended Garcetti’s nomination. In a brief interview this week, she expressed doubts about the mayor’s confirmation during the lame session. When asked if she believed it would ever be confirmed, Ernst replied, “Maybe not.”

A Democratic senator’s staffer agreed that Garcetti’s path to approval looks murky, with his boss remaining on the fence about Garcetti’s nomination and not wanting the issue to come to a vote.

“It’s very similar to when a house has been on the market for two years. You’re like, ‘There must be something wrong with this house,'” said the staffer, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the appointment process. “I just don’t see any benefit to anyone moving this vote forward.”

But White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in early November that the Biden administration would “continue to seek early confirmation from Mayor Garcetti,” adding, “It’s important for this president, a priority for this president”.

Garcetti was thwarted, at least in part, by Ernst’s fellow Iowa Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley, whose staff focused on allegations that the mayor ignored allegations that a former aide principal, Rick Jacobs, allegedly sexually harassed others in the mayor’s office.

In a report released in May, Grassley’s office said sexual harassment allegations against Jacobs, a former deputy mayor, were “pervasive, widespread and notorious.” He also concluded that it was “more likely than not that Mayor Garcetti had personal knowledge of the sexual harassment or should have known”.

Grassley staff continued to seek information about the controversy. A spokesperson for Grassley confirmed that the senator’s investigators last week obtained information about two new people who alleged inappropriate behavior by Jacobs.

One of the men, a longtime civic activist in Los Angeles, said in an interview with The Times that he had spoken to two Grassley staffers last week, telling them that Jacobs had greeted him at least eight times inappropriately — forcibly kissing her on the mouth while generally grabbing her ass.

The activist said the behavior occurred when he met Jacobs on city business and at holiday parties Jacobs was hosting at his house. In the latest instance, Jacobs “tightened” his ass when he met Garcetti’s assistant at his town hall office.

All of the other unwelcome greetings happened before Jacobs joined the mayor’s office, the man said. He said he could not recall an instance where Garcetti had witnessed the conduct. He said he had spoken to his wife about the dating, and she confirmed in a separate interview with The Times that her husband had complained about Jacobs.

The man, who is also a Democratic Party operative, said he did not want to be identified because he feared Garcetti or his allies would disparage him in Los Angeles Island political circles. He said he never complained to Garcetti or his aides for the same reason and because he feared appearing homophobic.

When Grassley’s office contacted him last week, the man said he agreed to tell his story because he thought Jacobs’ behavior seemed so brazen and routine that he thought Garcetti ought to. to know.

Grassley staffers also confirmed they were reviewing the deposition of another man who complained about Jacobs. In testimony given last month and reviewed by The Times, Paul Kadzielski, a former member of the mayor’s communications team, said Jacobs hugged him and occasionally touched or massaged his shoulders for several years.

The deposition was taken as part of a lawsuit filed against the city by Matt Garza, an LAPD officer who alleges Jacobs touched him and made rude remarks, sometimes in front of Garcetti.

Kadzielski complained that Jacobs told him he looked “strong” or “handsome”. He also testified that Jacobs also made racist and sexually inappropriate comments — behavior so common that it was a regular topic of conversation within Garcetti’s communications team.

Kadzielski, who worked in Garcetti’s office from 2015 to 2020, testified that Jacobs stopped touching him regularly after Kadzielski told him his behavior made him uncomfortable.

When asked if Jacobs had ever hugged or massaged him in front of Garcetti, Kadzielski said, “I don’t remember a specific instance.”

Kadzielski did not respond to a Times request for comment.

Similar to others who testified, Kadzielski said he raised his concerns about Jacobs with superiors in the mayor’s office, but nothing happened. Representatives for Garcetti used the new testimony to claim that the mayor could not have fixed what he had not been told. Others dismissed that notion, saying Jacobs’ misbehavior was so routine that the mayor must have known about it.

Jacobs denied harassing anyone, but said in his deposition that he may have hugged the officer. He also said he may have made sexual jokes in front of the mayor’s security services.

A lawyer for Jacobs did not respond to requests for comment on the two new allegations of inappropriate behavior.

Garcetti said the topic of sexual harassment allegations hasn’t dominated his many Zoom, phone and in-person meetings with senators.

“I was clear, I think, and I think the evidence is also crystal clear,” Garcetti said he was unaware of Jacobs’ alleged misconduct. “Conversations [with senators] really revolve around India and the strategic moment we are living in and my qualifications. I haven’t had a single conversation that didn’t end in a positive way.

Garcetti owed his optimism in part to Biden’s continued loyalty. “The president spoke to me personally,” Garcetti said. “He said, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s go. ”

Taylor Foy, a representative for Grassley, said this week that the two additional accounts of Jacobs’ behavior “raise more questions” about the accuracy of a report – commissioned by the city attorney’s office and supplemented by the attorney Leslie Ellis – who found Garcetti, Jacobs and others had done nothing wrong.

Grassley intends to vote against Garcetti’s nomination if it comes to a full Senate vote, Foy said.

The White House portrayed Grassley’s report on Jacobs as a “successful piece of work” and said the claims “have already been conclusively debunked” by the Ellis report and other information.

Garcetti’s parents, Gil and Sukey Garcetti, continue to pay a lobbying firm to push for their son’s nomination. The company, McGuireWoods, said it received $60,000 for the work, which the mayor said he accepted, seeing it as a sign of his parents’ love.

When asked if he had a backup plan in case the Senate did not approve his move to Delhi, Garcetti smiled and replied, “No. I plan to be confirmed.

Times writer Nolan McCaskill, in Washington, DC, contributed to this report.


California Daily Newspapers

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