Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s chief of staff allegedly posted insults and sexual innuendos about other city employees on a private Facebook group, it was reported Thursday.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Ana Guerrero posted suggestive comments about Director of Planning Vince Bertoni, hired by Garcetti in 2016.
“Kelli and I looked LONG and HARD for someone that might be easy on the eye,” she wrote as a Facebook comment on a 2010 photo of Bertoni wearing a wetsuit that was pulled down at his waist, The Times reported. In the photo, Bertoni was holding a surfboard and was with family members at a beachfront memorial ceremony. According to The Times, Guerrero was likely referring to Kelli Bernard, who helped hire Bertoni when she worked as Garcetti’s Deputy Mayor of Economic Development.
The comments were made in the invite-only “Solid Gold” Facebook group, which includes several of Garcetti’s staffers, appointees and supporters, The Times reported. A spokesman for the Department of City Planning told The Times that Bertoni was not aware of the comments about him.
The mayor’s office issued a statement by Guerrero that read:
“These years-old posts were jokes between me and a small group of close friends, and they were never meant to be seen outside that context,” she said. “I deeply regret engaging in this type of humor, even with close friends. It’s always been one of my top priorities to create a safe, supportive work environment here that inspires people to serve this city with commitment and compassion, and that’s what I will continue to do.”
The Times also reported that Guerrero posted insults about a former aide to Councilman Mike Bonin. Guerrero commented “is he preggers?” on a photo of Bonin’s aide shirtless in front of a mirror. The photo was taken from the aide’s own Facebook page and reposted on Solid Gold.
Guerrero also posted an emoji of a beast throwing up under an image of City Controller Ron Galperin, County Assessor Jeffrey Prang and others watching the 2016 Super Bowl on television, according to The Times.
The Times’ reporting comes amid a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Los Angeles Police Department Officer Matthew Garza against Garcetti’s former deputy chief of staff Rick Jacobs.
Garza filed the lawsuit against the city last July 13, alleging sex and gender harassment. According to Garza, from October 2013 until October of 2019, he was assigned to the LAPD’s police protection unit for the mayor. He says he was required to drive Garcetti to and from mayoral engagements and accompany him on out-of-town trips and that Jacobs often accompanied them.
Garza alleges Jacobs subjected him on “hundreds of occasions to unwanted and unwelcome sexual comments and touching,” including tight hugs and shoulder rubbing.
Asked during his deposition if he ever hugged Garza, Jacobs replied, ”It’s possible.” And whether he believed it was consensual — “I had the impression, yes.”
Asked if the hugs ever lasted longer than 15 seconds, he replied, ”Oh, I doubt that.”
Questioned whether he found Garza handsome, Jacobs said, “I mean, not particularly.”
Jacobs acknowledged that some of his handshakes with Garza could have resulted in his pulling the officer into an embrace as “sort of a bro hug.”
Jacobs denied making comments in Garza’s presence concerning the size of male private parts or that he ever motioned the officer to sit on his lap.
Jacobs also testified that the mayor’s father, former District Attorney Gil Garcetti, alerted him in 2020 that he could be sued for sexual harassment.
“I recall him (Gil Garcetti) saying that he had heard that Matt Garza was contemplating filing a lawsuit,” Jacobs said. “I believe he said it was a lawsuit about alleged sexual harassment. And I don’t remember a lot else.”
Asked how he responded to Gil Garcetti, Jacobs said he was caught off guard.
“I was surprised about anybody on the security detail contemplating filing a lawsuit,” Jacobs said. “In fact, I was surprised that anybody was filing a lawsuit.”
Jacobs was even more emphatic when asked why he was surprised.
“Because I had never done anything that constituted sexual harassment and nobody had ever raised any question,” he said.
Jacobs said he knew Gil Garcetti through his working relationship with the mayor.
“Gil is the father of Eric Garcetti and as such, cared deeply about his son,” Jacobs said. “I got to know Gil through that.”
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