GOP senator places hold on Garcetti nomination, citing new whistleblower claims

Mayor Eric Garcetti at a Senate committee hearing
Mayor Eric Garcetti appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in December on his nomination to become U.S. ambassador to India.
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

A top Republican senator wants to delay a Senate vote on Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination to become ambassador to India so allegations that Garcetti ignored sexual harassment in his office can be investigated.

In a letter sent Thursday by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Grassley indicated that he had put a hold on the Senate vote on Garcetti. Politico first reported the news of the letter.

A hold prevents a nomination from moving through the Senate on a fast-track basis.

Grassley, the ranking Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, also said in a statement that he is objecting to approval of Garcetti’s confirmation.


“I will object because I have received numerous credible allegations from multiple whistleblowers alleging that Mr. Garcetti, while mayor of Los Angeles, had knowledge of sexual harassment and assaults allegedly committed against multiple city employees and their associates by his close advisor, and that he ignored the misconduct,” Grassley said.

Grassley said “whistleblowers who have spoken with my office have not previously spoken to the Foreign Relations Committee, and are presenting new allegations that must be fully investigated.”

Grassley also referred to an investigation of the Los Angeles mayor’s office that “reportedly found no wrongdoing by the mayor or his staff. However, information provided by multiple whistleblowers strongly suggests that this investigation was incomplete at best.”

Investigative staff for Grassley are conducting a review of the allegations and are still in the fact-finding phase of the probe, a Grassley aide said. The aide said that investigators have talked to at least five people for the probe.

Garcetti’s office released a statement saying the mayor “has testified under oath multiple times, including before the U.S. Senate, and stands by his testimony unequivocally: He absolutely did not witness nor was he informed of any of the behavior being alleged.”


Garcetti told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in December that he never witnessed misconduct alleged by a former police bodyguard who claims in a lawsuit that an advisor to the mayor sexually harassed him.

“I want to say unequivocally that I never witnessed, nor was it brought to my attention, the behavior that’s been alleged, and I also want to assure you if it had been, I would have immediately taken action to stop that,” Garcetti said during his testimony.

The mayor was pressed about the sexual harassment claims by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who asked about accusations that he failed to intervene as his former aide, Rick Jacobs, allegedly harassed staffers in the mayor’s office. A Los Angeles police officer who served for seven years as Garcetti’s bodyguard claimed in a 2020 lawsuit that Garcetti witnessed Jacobs harass him but did nothing to stop it. Jacobs has denied the allegations.

Garcetti’s onetime director of communications filed a complaint with local, state and federal prosecutors last month, demanding that the mayor be prosecuted for perjury for repeatedly denying that he knew about another former aide’s alleged sexual misconduct.

A nonprofit law firm sent a 31-page letter on behalf of Naomi Seligman to the U.S. Department of Justice, the California attorney general’s office and Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón, accusing Garcetti of lying and conspiring with top staffers to cover up multiple accusations of sexual harassment against Jacobs.

Naomi Seligman says in a complaint to prosecutors that the mayor lied when he said he didn’t know of sexual harassment allegations against aide Rick Jacobs. The mayor’s office calls the charges a rehash -- and false.

Feb. 7, 2022

In a statement released Thursday, White House officials said they were standing by the mayor.


“Mayor Garcetti has been clear that he takes any allegations of harassment very seriously and has made clear this type of misconduct is unacceptable in his office in any form. He has also said that he never witnessed this behavior nor was told about it prior to the litigation. The president has confidence in Mayor Garcetti and believes he’ll be an excellent representative in India,” the White House statement said.

Greg Smith, attorney for Matthew Garza, the LAPD officer suing the city, said his client’s lawsuit “brought forward clear and convincing evidence” that Garcetti knew about and witnessed Jacobs’ sexually abusive behavior.

“Sen. Grassley understands that this is what the evidence shows. I have no doubt that when the White House goes over the evidence, the president will come to the same conclusion,” Smith said.

Grassley’s hold on Garcetti’s nomination means that the mayor can’t be confirmed through an unanimous consent agreement. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) can force a roll call vote on Garcetti’s nomination, but such a process eats up valuable Senate floor time.