Thursday, June 20, 2024

Eric Garcetti Looks Like a No-Go Again for Envoy to India as Harassment Charges Sink Re-Nomination

It looks like Eric Garcetti’s second attempt to become the United States ambassador to India has been all but washed away faster than a rice paddy along the Ganges River during flooding season.

Days before Garcetti, a Democrat, was scheduled to testify for his second time before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio slapped a hold on the nomination of the former Los Angeles mayor over the same allegations that sunk his first ambassadorial nomination last year, that he willingly enabled the sexually abusive behavior of his former deputy chief of staff, Rick Jacobs, who has been accused of making inappropriate, sexually-charged comments in his workplace, initiating unwanted kissing and touching, making sexual advances toward a member of the mayor’s police detail, a married male reporter and a number of others.

Garcetti was suspected of not only knowing about but turning a blind eye to Jacobs’ behavior and then telling senators during his confirmation hearing he didn’t know anything about the alleged harassment.

As more details surfaced about Jacobs’ abusive past, however, senators from both sides of the aisle admitted concerns about the nomination.

Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, opened an investigation with his office conducting interviews with 15 witnesses and examining 26 depositions and other documented evidence, including emails and text messages. As a result, Grassley’s investigative staff concluded Garcetti “likely knew, or should have known, that his former senior advisor was sexually harassing and making racist remarks toward multiple individuals.”

Despite Garcetti and the Biden administration trying to explain away the complaints as a political hit job, “some of the individuals who’ve come forward and shed light on the misconduct are from Mayor Garcetti’s own staff,” Grassley said.

The investigation found that Garcetti’s testimony before the committee was almost certainly false, causing Grassley to speak on the Senate floor about his adamant opposition to Garcetti.

“There is no place for sexual misconduct or racism. Mayor Garcetti had countless opportunities over the years to stand up for victims by removing his deputy chief of staff, which he failed to do,” Grassley said in December. “These fundamental failures by Garcetti are incompatible with the office that he seeks.

“Nobody is that brazen to engage in this type of outrageous behavior against other people unless they know that they have a powerful enabler protecting them. Based on the facts and the evidence, that enabler is Mayor Eric Garcetti,” said Grassley, who added he deemed Garcetti unfit to serve as ambassador.

The scepticism faced by Garcetti was hastened by several whistleblowers who were offered assistance by Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit legal group in Washington, D.C. that supports individuals who lawfully report government and corporate law breaking.

“Senator Rubio’s hold shines a spotlight on the reasons why Eric Garcetti’s nomination has already created an unprecedented two-year vacancy in New Delhi. The clear record of Garcetti enabling sexual harassment at City Hall in Los Angeles and his attempts to strong-arm the U.S. Senate into overlooking these failures is disqualifying” said Libby Liu, the CEO of Whistleblower Aid. “The Committee should be aware that the last time they questioned Garcetti on his knowledge of sexual harassment in his office, he perjured himself in his attempt to evade accountability and advance his nomination. That bad faith, on its own, is grounds for the Committee to stop the nomination moving forward.

“If he had the votes at any point, he would have been confirmed already,” said Liu. “I think it’s clearly past time the Senate sends a clear message to the administration that a new nominee is urgently needed.”

Nonetheless, the President re-nominated Garcetti as the top envoy to India, with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre announcing, “He is well qualified — Mayor Garcetti — to serve in this vital role…And we’re hopeful that the full Senate will confirm him promptly.”

“Unfortunately,” Grassley said, “the Biden administration is sending a message to victims of sexual harassment in the workplace that they’ll only be believed when politically convenient.”

Besides Garcetti, Rubio also placed holds on six other Biden nominations: Richard Verma, nominated to serve as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources; Michael Ratney, nominated to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but whose nomination Rubio has previously rejected; Felice Gorodo, nominated to serve as United States Alternate Executive Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, whose nomination Rubio has also previously rejected; Richard Weiner, nominated to serve as United States Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, whose nomination Rubio previously rejected; Leopoldo Martínez Nucete, nominated to serve as United States Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank, whose nomination Rubio has previously voted against; and Geeta Rao Gupta, nominated to serve as Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues, whose nomination Rubio previously rejected as well.

“One of these nominees (Garcetti) has ignored credible sexual assault accusations in his prior office,” said Rubio. “Another has done legal work with solar panel companies in Xinjiang, where egregious human rights abuses are committed. The list also contains an abortion extremist, someone with no diplomatic or investment experience, and an individual who has supported a policy of engagement with Cuba’s murderous dictatorship. I will not turn a blind eye to these absurd nominations, which will hasten America’s decline.”