A prominent Republican senator’s investigation into allegations surrounding Mayor Eric Garcetti and his former top aide found it “extremely unlikely” that Garcetti was unaware of the aide’s alleged inappropriate behavior.
The 23-page report released Tuesday by Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa concluded that Garcetti “likely knew or should have known that Rick Jacobs was sexually harassing multiple individuals and making racist comments towards others.”
Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, ordered the report earlier this year after whistleblowers approached his office with accusations about Garcetti and Jacobs, a high-level aide who helped propel the mayor’s political career. Garcetti was nominated in July by President Biden to become ambassador to India.
Both Jacobs and Garcetti declined to be interviewed by Grassley’s investigators. Garcetti spokesman Harrison Wollman said earlier this month that the mayor offered to meet with Grassley, but that meeting has yet to take place.
It was not immediately clear what impact the investigation would have on Garcetti’s nomination.
The White House issued a statement Tuesday afternoon dismissing the investigation as biased and incomplete and saying Biden stands firmly behind Garcetti. White House spokesman Chris Meagher said that Grassley’s “partisan report was a hit job from the beginning” and that the claims “have already been conclusively debunked.”
“The president has confidence in Mayor Garcetti,” Meagher continued, “and believes he will be an excellent representative in India at a critical moment and calls for the Senate to swiftly confirm him.”
The Senate confirmation process has dragged on for months as Grassley and other senators signaled doubts about Garcetti’s nomination. His second and final term as mayor ends in December and multiple candidates are vying to succeed him in the June 7 primary.
The allegations surrounding the mayor’s office became public in 2020, when a Los Angeles police officer who worked as Garcetti’s bodyguard sued the city, claiming that Jacobs sexually harassed him and that the mayor witnessed the behavior but didn’t intervene.
Jacobs has denied harassing anyone, but said in deposition testimony that he may have hugged the officer. He also has said he may have made sexual jokes in front of the mayor’s security detail.
Other city staffers have said in deposition testimony or in interviews with The Times that it was widely discussed in the mayor’s office that Jacobs sexually harassed individuals.
Garcetti’s nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January. A month earlier, Garcetti told the panel that he never witnessed the misconduct alleged by the police officer. He has also said that he never witnessed any inappropriate behavior by his aide.
Email correspondence reviewed by The Times through public records show that Grassley’s investigators reached out in recent weeks to several top staffers in Garcetti’s office, including advisor Ana Guerrero, seeking to interview them for their report.
Grassley’s investigators interviewed 15 witnesses, and read 26 depositions taken in the civil lawsuit of LAPD Officer Garza. Eleven other individuals working for or close to the mayor refused to meet with investigators, the report said.
The report largely includes evidence that has already been made public. However, one of the new allegations is from a witness who described an incident in which Jacobs allegedly massaged and rubbed his groin against another person at the 2015 U.S.-China Climate Summit in Los Angeles.
In addition, another individual told investigators that Garcetti said that he couldn’t believe the city wasn’t sued during the time that Jacobs worked at City Hall.
Former Obama administration official Jeremy Bernard gave deposition testimony in which he said he heard Garcetti make such a remark. The mayor has denied ever saying such a thing.
Grassley’s report follows a report ordered by the city attorney’s office to help in its defense of the Garza case that concluded Garza was not sexually harassed by Jacobs and that Garcetti did nothing wrong. Jacobs was interviewed for a second version of the report.
Grassley’s investigators wrote that “new evidence against Mr. Jacobs and Mayor Garcetti has surfaced” since that city report was released earlier this year.
The investigators also wrote that they “learned that either the mayor’s office or the State Department previously withheld the updated version” of the city report, which included the interview with Jacobs, from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The report concluded that “it is more probable than not that Mr. Jacobs sexually harassed multiple individuals, and made racist comments towards others. Based on witness testimony, this behavior was pervasive, widespread, and notorious.”
“Several individuals told investigators that Mayor Garcetti was aware of this behavior, and based on the reported frequency and conspicuous nature of the conduct, it is more likely than not that Mayor Garcetti either had personal knowledge of the sexual harassment or should have been aware of it,” the report states.
The report notes the probe by Grassley’s team “is not a criminal or civil investigation, but an investigation meant to assist in the Senate’s constitutionally mandated advice and consent process.”
This article will be updated.