Former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s long-stalled nomination to become U.S. ambassador to India cleared a critical procedure vote in the U.S. Senate Wednesday, setting up a likely final approval later in the day.
A procedural vote advancing the nomination was approved by a 52-42 tally, with seven Republicans backing Garcetti, a Democrat — although three Democrats voted nay. Garcetti’s nomination has been dogged by lingering allegations that Garcetti ignored accusations of assault and sexual harassment against a former top aide.
The procedural vote signaled that Garcetti will likely have enough votes Wednesday afternoon when the full Senate considers the nomination. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination last week.
President Joe Biden originally nominated Garcetti for the post on July 9, 2021. After it stalled, Biden re-nominated him in January.
An investigation requested by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, last year concluded that it was “more probable than not” that former Garcetti senior adviser Rick Jacobs “sexually harassed multiple individuals and made racist comments towards others.” It also found it “extremely unlikely” that Garcetti was unaware of the behavior, saying that “by all accounts, Mayor Garcetti is very involved in the day-to-day operation of his office.”
The White House blasted the report, saying in a statement, “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. The president has confidence in Mayor Garcetti and believes he will be an excellent representative in India at a critical moment and calls for the Senate to swiftly confirm him.”
Garcetti has repeatedly denied any knowledge of alleged harassing behavior by Jacobs. Following the report’s release, he said in a statement that he “strongly” disagreed with its conclusions.
His Chief Communications Officer 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 opinion reached in the report does not reflect the truth about the experiences of so many people who have testified under oath and spoken candidly to the senator’s office. It is based solely on false, repackaged allegations that have been proven false by multiple unbiased investigations and reviews.”
Jacobs was accused of harassment in a 2020 lawsuit filed by Los Angeles Police Department Officer Matthew Garza, who claims Garcetti witnessed the misconduct but turned a blind eye to it.
Garcetti’s former communications director, Naomi Seligman, also claimed she was forcibly kissed by Jacobs and that Garcetti knew about Jacobs’ alleged pattern of harassment.