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A top US Senate Republican released the finding of an investigation Tuesday that concluded Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti “likely knew or should have known” that a former top adviser was allegedly sexually harassing city employees and made racist comments, a finding that appears to contradict the mayor’s assertion that he was unaware of any inappropriate behavior.
A 23-page report released by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said his office’s probe found it was “extremely unlikely” that Garcetti, who was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as ambassador to India, would not have been aware of the misconduct allegations against his former aide, Rick Jacobs.
The probe marks the latest development in Garcetti’s effort to fill one of the nation’s most prominent diplomatic roles. The nomination has been languishing in the Senate since July, as the mayor faced questions about what he knew, and when, regarding the allegations against Jacobs.
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Garcetti is not eligible to run for a third term as mayor of Los Angeles due to term limits but is already serving an extended second term. The primary is scheduled for June 7, and 12 candidates have qualified for the ballot to run as mayor of the second-largest city in the United States.
Jacobs is accused of sexual harassment in the form of inappropriate comments, unwanted kissing and touching and sexual advances against a male LAPD officer assigned to Garcetti’s security detail, as well as a male reporter, the fiancé of an office communications director and other whistleblowers.
The report includes a photo showing Jacobs grabbing the genitals of a male consulting partner in a photograph with Garcetti at the US Conference of Mayors in Miami Beach, Florida.
“By all accounts, Mr. Jacobs’ behavior was widely known and talked about,” the 23-page report released Tuesday says. “It was pervasive, widespread, and notorious – to the point that Mr. Jacobs sexually harassed someone in front of the mayor for a picture that would be memorialized for all time. Such overt conduct suggests at best that Mr. Jacobs had no fear of any repercussions. ”
It also says Jacobs condoned his own “predatory” behavior under the justification he is a gay man.
Much of the evidence cited in the report has previously been made public. However, one apparently new account involves a whistleblower who allegedly saw Jacobs at the US-China Climate Summit in Los Angeles in 2015 sexually harassing an employee who was working on a laptop, including pressing his groin area on the person’s back. Senior staffers later laughed it off, the report said.
“Investigators believe this allegation is credible because it fits the pattern of behavior described by several other senior staff members in Mayor Garcetti’s office, and because of its similarity to allegations” in the lawsuit, the report found. It also describes how Jacobs made racist remarks at the office toward his Chinese assistant, and Black and Indian employees.
“This partisan report was a hit job from the beginning, and many of the claims have already been conclusively debunked by more serious independent reports,” White House deputy secretary Chris Meagher said in a statement reacting to the Senate investigation into Garcetti. “It repackages allegations already addressed under oath and does not interview key participants.”
At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in December, Garcetti told lawmakers considering his nomination as ambassador to India that he never witnessed Jacobs sexually harassing his police bodyguards, allegations that are at the center of a lawsuit filed against his administration.
The lawsuit alleges Garcetti often witnessed the behavior and laughed it off.
Grassley disclosed the investigation in March, saying he had received “numerous credible allegations” that Garcetti was aware of the sexual harassment but did nothing to stop it.
At the time, he said he could not vote to confirm Garcetti, saying the nation deserved an ambassador who would “represent the values of the United States.”
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Investigators interviewed 15 witnesses, read 26 depositions taken in the lawsuit and consulted other materials, including emails and text messages. The report said Garcetti and Jacobs declined to be interviewed.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Garcetti spokeswoman Dae Levine said, “No new facts were uncovered in this report and Mayor Garcetti strongly reaffirms the simple truth that he never witnessed or was made aware of sexual harassment.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.