Former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was confirmed by the Senate as the next U.S. ambassador to India, ending a nearly two-year process dogged by lingering allegations that he ignored accusations of assault and sexual harassment against a former top aide.
Garcetti cleared a major procedural hurdle Wednesday when the Senate voted 52-42 to advance his nomination to a full Senate vote. That vote essentially assured his nomination would pass, and it did Wednesday afternoon.
Seven Republicans crossed the aisle to vote in favor of Garcetti in the 52-42 vote, but three fellow Democrats voted nay.
In a statement following the vote, Garcetti said he was “thrilled with today’s outcome, which was a decisive and bipartisan decision to fill a critical post that has been vacant for far too long. Now the hard work begins.”
“I’m ready and eager to begin my service representing our critical interests in India,” he said.
President Joe Biden originally nominated Garcetti for the post on July 9, 2021. After it stalled, Biden re-nominated him in January.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement she looks forward to working with Garcetti in his new role.
“I congratulate former Mayor Garcetti on his confirmation to serve as our country’s ambassador to the world’s largest democracy. His ability to strengthen our nation’s position in the world draws from his experience leading a global city, an academic background in international affairs, service as a Navy intelligence officer and the full confidence of the President,” she said Thursday. “Los Angeles is an international hub, and I look forward to working with Eric as he represents our nation in New Delhi.”
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.