The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will put to a vote the nomination of former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to be ambassador to India after his nomination languished in the chamber for over 600 days while senators grappled with Garcetti’s possible knowledge about a sexual harassment scandal in his office.
President Biden nominated Garcetti in July 2021. After clearing his first committee hurdle, Garcetti failed to earn a full Senate vote after new revelations about a sexual harassment lawsuit involving his former top adviser came to light and Republicans and some Democrats opposed his confirmation.
Biden nominated Garcetti again earlier this year, with the White House maintaining he has Biden’s full support and is “well qualified to serve in this vital role.”
Republicans have remained obstinate, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who placed a hold on the nomination last month, saying Garcetti “has ignored credible sexual assault accusations in his prior office” and calling the nomination “absurd.”
Those accusations are highlighted in a pending lawsuit against Rick Jacobs, Garcetti’s former chief of staff. Jacobs is being accused of sexual harassment in the form of inappropriate comments, unwanted kissing and touching and sexual advances against a male LAPD officer assigned to Garcetti’s security detail, a male reporter and other whistleblowers.
Naomi Seligman, Garcetti’s former communications director and an alleged victim of Jacob’s sexual harassment, is represented by Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit group actively engaging with Capitol Hill on her behalf.
“I’m a lifelong Democrat, but this is an issue that goes beyond party politics,” she told Fox News Digital in a statement. “If we are serious about listening to whistleblowers and survivors of sexual assault — and leaders on both sides of the aisle say they are — we can’t suddenly shy away when the abusers or their enablers happen to be party insiders. We can’t allow morality to be that flexible,” Seligman said.
“The case against Garcetti is clear and well documented, which is why he hasn’t been able to win confirmation for more than 600 days. He is unfit to serve, and the sooner senators of both parties recognize that the better.”
Senior Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa., opened an investigation last year into the matter with his office, conducting interviews with 15 witnesses and examining 26 depositions and other documentary evidence, including emails and text messages. Grassley’s investigative staff concluded that Garcetti “likely knew, or should have known, that his former senior adviser was sexually harassing and making racist remarks toward multiple individuals.”
Garcetti testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year that he was only made aware of the allegations from the lawsuit and had no prior knowledge of the allegations. The White House previously called Grassley’s investigation a partisan “hit job.”
Last February, Whitleblower Aid accused Garcetti of lying under oath twice, first when he was deposed on Feb. 8, 2021, as part of the lawsuit against Jacobs’ predatory behavior, and then when questioned by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., during his confirmation hearing Dec. 14, 2021.
The group sent a complaint to law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Justice, the office of the California Attorney General and the office of the Los Angeles District Attorney.
“Eric Garcetti knowingly allowed his top lieutenant to harass, assault and bully people in his orbit, not just once but repeatedly and flagrantly,” Whistleblower Aid founder and Chief Disclosure Officer John Tye, who is representing Seligman, said at the time. “Then he lied about it under oath repeatedly. We call on law enforcement to prosecute these crimes and for senators to block this nomination.”
The vote for Garcetti’s nomination is scheduled for Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ET during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting.