Monday, Jul 04, 2022

Eric Garcetti, Biden's 'Excellent' Nominee For India Envoy, Embroiled In Sex Abuse Allegations, Know All About Them

It is alleged that Eric Garcetti was aware of sexual abuse accusations against his senior staffer Rick Jacobs and he did not act on those accusations.

Joe Biden and Eric Garcetti
Joe Biden and Eric Garcetti Photograph from Eric Garcetti's Twitter account

US President Joe Biden nominated Eric Garcetti for the post of Ambassador to India last year, but his confirmation has since been pending with the US Senate. Now Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has said he intends to object the confirmation because of allegations that he was aware of sexual abuse allegations against one of his senior staffers but did not act. 

Grassley said, “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 adviser and that he ignored the misconduct.”

New Delhi has had no full-time US ambassador since early 2021 when Kenneth I Juster concluded his tenure. 

Who is Eric Garcetti, Biden’s nominee for US Ambassador to India? 

Eric Garcetti is the current Mayor of Los Angeles and an ally of President Joe Biden. 

Garcetti considered a run for a presidential candidature in 2020 but later joined Biden’s inner circle. Upon Biden’s victory, he was believed to be among candidates for a Cabinet post but he took himself out of those considerations at the time. 

Garcetti has travelled several times to India. In college, he spent a year studying Hindi and Urdu.

A Rhodes Scholar, Garcetti studied at Queen's College, Oxford and the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was selected as an inaugural Asia 21 Fellow of the Asia Society and taught at Occidental College's Department of Diplomacy and World Affairs as well as at the University of Southern California's School of International Relations.

What are the allegations against Eric Garcetti?

It is alleged that Eric Garcetti was aware of sexual abuse accusations against his senior staffer Rick Jacobs and he did not act on those accusations.

A police officer who served as one of Garcetti’s bodyguards alleged that Jacobs made crude sexual comments and touched him inappropriately over many years. The officer alleged that Jacobs would extend his hand for a handshake but then pull him into a “long, tight hug” while simultaneously saying, “I love me my strong LAPD officers” or some other “inappropriate comment”, according to the lawsuit. It added that Jacobs once motioned for Garza to come over to him and “sit on his lap” at a bar.

This began around 2014 and continued until October 2019, according to a lawsuit filed by the officer.

The lawsuit further said, “Garcetti was present on approximately half of the occasions when Jacobs behaved in this way, and witnessed Jacobs’ conduct, but he took no action to correct Jacobs’ obviously harassing behaviour.”

Moreover, a journalist, Yashar Ali, also accused Jacobs of sexual assault on almost a dozen instances between from 2005 to 2015.

What is Biden administration’s response?

President Joe Biden has called Eric Garcetti “excellent representative” to India.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was confident of Garcetti’s confirmation by the Senate. 

She said, “He (Grassley) can't actually prevent a vote from moving forward on the floor. I mean, he can convey his opposition, as is the right of any Senator, but Mayor Garcetti is out of committee, and we're hoping to see a vote on the Senate floor soon.”

In January this year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had cleared Garcetti. He still needs to be approved by the senate.

What has Senator Grassley said?

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has said the investigation into the allegations have been incomplete. 

He said, “The United States owes it to the Republic of India to send them a qualified Ambassador that will represent the values of the United States. Mayor Garcetti may very well be fully qualified, but at this time, the Senate needs to look into these allegations further."

With PTI inputs