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L.A. on the Record: The Senate takes one more look at Garcetti

A man in a suit speaks into a microphone
Then-Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at news conference in 2021.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)
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Good morning, and welcome to L.A. on the Record — our City Hall newsletter. Dakota Smith is here to wrap up all the news of the week for you!

The last time Eric Garcetti’s nomination to become U.S. ambassador to India was before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in December 2021, things went pretty smoothly for the then-Los Angeles mayor.

Only one member of the committee, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), pressed him on sexual harassment allegations made against one of his former advisors. The next month, the committee voted to move his nomination to the full Senate.

But now, some Republicans appear ready for a fight. The committee was scheduled to reconsider Garcetti’s nomination Tuesday, because it’s a new session of Congress and all nominations put forward by President Biden must be resubmitted.

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the committee, said Friday he was placing a “hold” on Garcetti’s nomination, a move that slows down the process. (Other Republicans have also at times placed holds on Garcetti’s nomination.)

In a statement, Rubio alleged that Garcetti “has ignored credible sexual assault accusations in his prior office.”

Rubio also placed holds on other nominees scheduled to be taken up at Tuesday’s meeting.

Under committee rules, any member can postpone a vote on a nominee until the next committee meeting. That means a vote on Garcetti isn’t likely to take place Tuesday.

A Garcetti spokesperson declined to comment.

The former mayor’s nomination stalled last year over questions about whether Garcetti and top aides knew about sexual harassment complaints lodged against former advisor Rick Jacobs. Jacobs has said that he didn’t harass anyone, and Garcetti has denied being aware of any complaints.

The panel previously considered Garcetti’s nomination in January 2022, and no senator voiced an objection. But at the same time, no formal roll call vote was held by the committee chair, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

After that meeting, it was expected that Garcetti’s nomination would head to the Senate and be confirmed. Many in Los Angeles started preparing for the then-mayor’s early departure from office.

But then, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) launched an investigation into the accusations involving Jacobs. Grassley’s office ultimately released a report concluding that Garcetti knew or should have known about the alleged misconduct. Grassley also delivered a speech on the Senate floor urging Republicans to vote against the nomination.

At the same time, Garcetti’s parents hired a lobbyist to press Congress and the White House over the nomination. Garcetti supporters have rallied religious and civic leaders to contact senators to support the former mayor.

Ambassadorships are given to foreign service experts or political supporters. Garcetti served as a co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign. He doesn’t have expertise in India and has visited the country a handful of times.

Since leaving office, Garcetti has kept a low profile. The former mayor has told people about a recent planned Ukraine trip, according to sources, although it’s unclear why he was headed to the country. Garcetti’s spokesman declined to comment on the trip.

State of play

A woman, man and woman
Democratic California Reps. Barbara Lee, Adam B. Schiff and Katie Porter are vying for retiring Sen. Dianne Feinsten’s seat.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associted Press; Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

LATEST POLL: With Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s announcement that she won’t seek another term, the race to replace her has heated up. Two Southern California Democrats, Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) and Katie Porter (D-Irvine), have taken a strong early position for the state’s top-two primary, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by The Times. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) trails far behind the pair.

Schiff has the support of 22% of respondents, with 20% backing Porter, 6% for Lee and 4% for Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont), the poll found.

The Times’ Dakota Smith ran into Lee at Los Angeles City Hall on Thursday night and asked her about the poll, which was done before she officially kicked off her campaign. “I just launched my campaign two days ago,” Lee said, adding that she feels “fine” about the race.

Smith also asked Lee if she feels like she has an edge being from Northern California, given that Schiff and Porter are from the Southern part of the state.

“I’m going for votes everywhere,” Lee said, pointing out that she attended San Fernando High School.

— SIN CITY: The Times looked at how the issue of distrust of City Hall is playing in the race for the City Council District 6 seat in the east and central San Fernando Valley. Will skepticism about the City Council and politicians help or hurt turnout in the race to succeed former council President Nury Martinez?

— BAD TRIP: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority reports that there have already been as many deaths on its system since Jan. 1 as there were all last year. Crime and drug use are causing some officials to call for increased security.

TIME OUT: There’s more drama at the city’s Department of Animal Services as the director of volunteer programs was placed on administrative leave.

— DEADLINE LOOMING: City officials told families displaced by the botched 2021 fireworks detonation in South L.A. that they have to move out of the hotel they’ve called home by March 31, leaving some worried about shelter.

BASS ON POLICING: In the clearest indication yet of her police priorities, Mayor Karen Bass said she wants the LAPD to hire more homicide detectives, overhaul its discipline system and root out far-right extremists within its ranks. She laid out her policing plans to The Times.

Criticism over Valley debate site

Los Angeles City Council District 6 candidate Antoinette Scully is criticizing the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils for holding a recent debate (which a Times reporter moderated) at Osborne Neighborhood Church in Arleta.

Scully attended the debate and later tweeted out images of a pamphlet that was displayed in the hallway of the evangelical church — among other literature — on the day of the debate. The pamphlet talked about how marriage is between a man and a woman and said that “no human society” has ever “tolerated” marriage between two members of the same sex.

“In the future, I hope organizations consider locations that are more inclusive to folks of all backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities,” Scully said in a statement. The statement also noted that Scully is a “queer mom with queer children.”

“I want my kids to feel safe when I bring them with me to events, as I’m sure every parent does.”

Linda Gravani, chair of the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils, said the “purpose of the forum is to get to know the candidates.” She said none of the candidates voiced objections to the location before the event.

Osborne Neighborhood Church Pastor Ryan Donnelly confirmed that the pamphlets were at the church, and said the literature is regularly there because it is routinely sent to the organization or put out by church members.

Quick hits

  • Who’s running the city? Karen Bass.
  • More people running: West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne will seek the congressional seat being vacated by Schiff.
  • Endorsements: The North Valley Democratic Club of Los Angeles endorsed Marco Santana in the L.A. City Council District 6 race. Councilmember Monica Rodriguez endorsed Imelda Padilla in the same race.

Times staff writer Jennifer Haberkorn in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

Stay in touch

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