It may be recalled that on October 19, 2020, noted American journalist Yashar Ali reported allegations that Eric Garcetti, former Mayor of Los Angeles, had been aware of sexual misconduct committed by his senior advisor, Rick Jacobs, but did not take proper action.
In May 2021, it was reported with dismay that President Biden was considering the tainted Eric Garcetti as the American Ambassador to India. On July 9, 2021, Biden officially announced his nomination of Garcetti to the post. Garcetti’s nomination was sent to the Senate a couple of days later, on July 13, 2021. Hearings on his nominations were held before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on December 14, 2021. His nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 12, 2022.
On March 10, 2022, Senator Chuck Grassley placed a hold on Garcetti’s nomination, citing allegations that Garcetti knew about the sexual misconduct committed by his top advisor, Rick Jacobs, and did not take proper action. On March 23, 2022, Senator Joni Ernst announced she would also place a hold on Garcetti’s nomination while investigations were conducted, as some depositions suggest Garcetti knew of Jacobs’ conduct. On January 3, 2023, the Senate returned Garcetti’s nomination to the White House as it had expired.
Undeterred by the Senate’s return, President Joe Biden renominated Garcetti the same day. On February 24, 2023, Senator Marco Rubio placed another hold on Garcetti’s nomination due to the sexual misconduct scandal. On March 8, 2023, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced his nomination by a 13–8 vote. On March 15, 2023, the Senate invoked cloture (a procedure for ending a debate and taking a vote) on his nomination by a 52-42 vote. Later that day, Garcetti’s nomination was confirmed by a 52-42 vote. Eric Garcetti presented his credentials to Indian President Droupadi Murmu on May 11, 2023.
In a recent development, The Los Angeles Times reported on May 5 that ‘a Los Angeles Police Department officer who accused ex-Mayor Eric Garcetti’s former senior advisor Rick Jacobs of sexual harassment has tentatively agreed to settle his lawsuit with the city, according to court documents. Attorneys for Matthew Garza, a Metropolitan Division officer assigned to Garcetti’s security detail for a decade, filed documents Thursday saying a tentative settlement has been reached in the case that endangered the former mayor’s political future and revealed widespread allegations of misconduct against Jacobs, a powerful political fixer and key aide to Garcetti. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Curtis A. Kin, informed of a “conditional’’ resolution of the case, canceled the September 5 start of the trial. A source familiar with the lawsuit said the payout is in the range of $1.5 million to $2 million. Any settlement involving a significant amount of money would need City Council approval’. However, there is no confirmation about this payout.
The above case would have practically ended Eric Garcetti’s political career if it had gone to trial!
Garcetti’s second name seems to cause controversy. Once, a Los Angeles Times editorial said that the city council’s changes (during Garcetti’s time as Mayor of Los Angeles) to the watering ordinance were a “death knell for one of the best collective environmental efforts made by the citizens of Los Angeles.” Can we ask, then, if Garcetti is a hazard to the environment? He has also faced public fury for developments that unexpectedly demolished and built over cultural and historic landmarks. One example is of three buildings at the historic Sunset Junction that were demolished to make way for a large condominium development, but which in fact remained vacant land for more than a decade. A spokesperson for Garcetti expressed disappointment that the developer took action without first notifying the city council, which had discussed community concerns. Can we ask, “How is that possible?”
Eric Garcetti uses shocking language too! On June 16, 2014, while speaking at the championship celebration for the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, Garcetti reportedly cautioned: “There are two rules in politics: never be pictured with a drink in your hand, and never swear.” He then held up an empty beer bottle and said, “But this is a big f*cking day. The incident naturally attracted some controversy. When he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live later that evening, Garcetti told the late-night TV host, “It was hockey; it wasn’t a match of lawn bowls.” A day later, speaking at a luncheon at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, he apologized to those who found what he said offensive. He tried to defend himself by saying that it was “something that plenty of people have heard in their lives, for sure”. It is not known if Garcetti used the ‘F’ word due to the influence of his favorite liquor, Tequila, at that time. For the uninitiated, tequila is a hard liquor that is made from the blue agave plant and has a very unique taste. For many people, tequila is exciting and slightly intimidating all at once. It’s a notorious drink for getting many people drunk, as tequila is stronger than other alcoholic beverages.
Indian media reported that the US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, expressed admiration for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, stating that India is in ‘excellent hands’. He commended the ‘transformative policies’ implemented by the Modi administration in collaboration with the public and private sectors, as well as the community aspect that characterizes India’s current rise. Flattering Modi, Eric blurted out: No 5G, 6G, only Guruji! By the way, Modi qualifies to be Eric’s Guruji due to the ‘fact’ that Modi has a Master’s in ‘Entire Political Science’ whereas Eric Garcetti majored in political graduation. At least Garcetti’s degree is not from Delhi University. It is from Columbia University.
As Mason Cooley says, ‘Flattery and insults raise the same question: What do you want?’ That is the question, Mr. Eric Garcetti! What do you want from your Guruji? Do you want him to recommend to Joe Biden that you be his running mate for the vice presidential race next year? Garcetti’s Guruji comment is a clear case of flattery. He is trying to keep our Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi in good humor in case the Los Angeles Mayor’s office’s alleged sexual misconduct incidents are repeated in his embassy office and reported by the victims later. Saving skin? It will be a sin!
Our Hon’ble President Droupadi Murmu should not have accepted Eric Garcetti’s credentials as the US Ambassador to India. Though Garcetti denied witnessing any sexual misconduct by his senior advisor, Rick Jacobs, in his presence, the fact is that many senators have expressed their concerns about ‘inaction’ against sexual misconduct. It is a question of propriety. If women and men are not safe and their sexual integrity is compromised even in the higher echelons of power, it will be troubled times for democracy and human rights. President Murmu should ask President Biden to send somebody better and call back Eric Garcetti as the ambassador. If Ambassador Garcetti is not returned and any case of sexual misconduct is detected in the embassy, the United States Government should be sued for a token amount of $30 trillion payable in three years. This amount should be transferred to the Nirbhaya Fund for the welfare of survivors of sexual assault.
(The views expressed are personal)