Mayor Garcetti reportedly being considered for India ambassador post

Mayor Eric Garcetti delivering his State of the City address from the Griffith Observatory in April.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s name has surfaced again as a possible nominee for a position in the administration of President Biden, five months after he said he had turned down a federal post.

Garcetti is one of several candidates under consideration for U.S. ambassador to India, the political news site Axios reported on Tuesday.

In December, the mayor said he had turned down an unspecified job with the Biden administration and would stay in Los Angeles to lead pandemic relief efforts. However, Garcetti hasn’t publicly ruled out leaving before his second term ends in December 2022.


His spokesman Alex Comisar called the Axios report “speculative.”

“We aren’t going to engage in speculation. We’re 100% focused on ending the COVID pandemic and passing a justice budget for the city,” Comisar said Tuesday.

Comisar declined to comment when asked if Garcetti was being vetted by Biden’s team.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked Wednesday at a news briefing about a possible Garcetti appointment.

“I don’t have any personnel announcements or assessments to make here from the podium, but hopefully we’ll have some more formal announcements on ambassadors soon,” she said.

The mayor was an early supporter of Biden in the presidential race and served as a cochair of his campaign committee.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti hasn’t ruled out stepping down to join President-elect Biden’s team, but it’s unclear what job might be available to him.

Dec. 16, 2020

A Garcetti departure would set off a chain of political events in Los Angeles.

Under the City Charter, the City Council has the power to select someone to fill out the remainder of a mayor’s unfinished term. Who that would be is far from clear.

Council members are unlikely to select anyone running for mayor to serve in an interim capacity. So, far two elected officials — City Atty. Mike Feuer and Councilman Joe Buscaino — are already running for Garcetti’s seat in the June 2022 primary election.


Two others — Councilmen Mark Ridley-Thomas and Councilman Kevin de León — have not ruled out the idea.

And on Wednesday, a political consultant for Council President Nury Martinez said that, after spending a year helping families recover from “the devastating effects of the pandemic,” she is weighing her own mayoral bid.

“People who have watched her help lead the city through the last year are asking her to run for mayor,” said Martinez consultant Roy Behr. “As someone committed to advocating for the working families, women and children of L.A., it’s something she is seriously considering.”

Garcetti’s possible nomination to a Biden post last year sparked daily protests outside his home by members of Black Lives Matter and others. Activists are critical of the mayor over his handling of police shootings of unarmed Black men and his oversight of the city budget.

Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, said her first reaction to the Garcetti report was: “Good.”

Abdullah said the group had opposed Garcetti gaining a position that would give him national influence over policy, but “an ambassador is not going to be setting policy.”


“We do think, though, that what he’s trying to build is foreign relations experience to make himself more qualified as he runs for higher office,” Abdullah said. “And any office he runs for where he would have influence over policy, we will try to block him.”

Moving into the yellow tier clears the way for Los Angeles County to unshackle its economy to the widest extent currently allowed.

May 4, 2021

Garcetti has earned praise for pushing for the wearing of masks and leading the city in the early days of the pandemic. But he’s faced criticism from restaurant owners and others for supporting the shutdown of some businesses.

While COVID-19 case numbers have dropped and businesses have reopened, city leaders continue to grapple with a growing homelessness crisis. The city is facing potentially sweeping action by a federal judge over its handling of homelessness. At the same time, shootings are up almost 67% over the same period last year, and homicides are up more than 26%.

Garcetti is also facing accusations by a former bodyguard, who alleges in a lawsuit that he was sexually harassed by the mayor’s former advisor and that the mayor witnessed the behavior but did nothing to stop it.

Three former city staffers last year said in a statement released through their attorney that Jacobs’ bullying and sexually aggressive actions were widely known inside the mayor’s office, and that Garcetti “refused to acknowledge it.”

Garcetti has denied witnessing inappropriate behavior and Jacobs has denied wrongdoing.


Times staff writers David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.