Garcetti says top aide’s private Facebook posts were ‘wrong.’ Now he’s looking to move on
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti defended his chief of staff on Friday, saying that he was disappointed by her posts in a private Facebook group and that she has “learned lessons” from the experience.
Garcetti said he did not know about the posts on the Facebook group, known as Solid Gold, until they were reported in The Times. Although he called those comments “wrong,” Garcetti said he is satisfied with her apology.
“Obviously, they’re wrong and I was disappointed to hear them,” he said. “But I know Ana. She’s an exceptional leader and thoughtful, caring friend and colleague, who I know has learned from those mistakes. She’s apologized, and we’re going to move forward.”
The Times reported this week that Garcetti’s chief of staff, Ana Guerrero, posted sexual innuendo and disparaging remarks about other city officials in a Facebook group populated by Garcetti aides, appointees and others. In one message, she remarked on a shirtless photo of the city’s planning director, who had recently been hired by the mayor.
Guerrero wrote that she and another staffer had looked “LONG and HARD for someone that might be easy on the eye.” In another post, Guerrero commented on a photo of a shirtless council aide, posing the question: “Is he preggers?”
Guerrero has expressed regret about the posts, telling The Times this week that they were sent to a small group of close friends and were never intended to be seen outside that context.
Garcetti chief of staff Ana Guerrero said she regrets posting certain private Facebook messages, saying they “were never meant to be seen” outside her small group of friends.
Genie Harrison, an attorney who specializes in employment litigation, said the post about the planning director’s looks could be used as evidence of gender discrimination — if there were a female candidate who applied for the job in 2016 and was not hired.
The Facebook group’s comments could also become fodder for a lawsuit over a hostile work environment, Harrison said. And they could contribute to a sexual harassment lawsuit if there were other examples in the workplace, she said.
Garcetti, in an interview, repeatedly refused to say whether Guerrero had received discipline over the posts. He also declined to say whether he viewed Guerrero’s message on the planning director as a form of sexual harassment — or whether it could create legal liability for the city.
The mayor has spoken previously on the issue of sexual harassment, saying it has “no place” in any workplace. In 2018, he launched an online portal for city workers to report harassment, saying he wanted to create a “more respectful work environment.”
“City Hall must set the example for L.A.’s entire workforce,” he said in the announcement.
A lawyer for a police officer who sued the city, alleging he was sexually harassed, called on the city’s lawyers this week to preserve copies of the Facebook group’s posts, emojis and “likes.”
Garcetti, for his part, said Friday that he wasn’t making a legal argument when he described the Facebook messages as “wrong.” He said he tries to “lead with love” and wants others around him to do the same.
“Sometimes you know that something’s wrong when you see it,” he said. “And that was my word to describe it.”
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