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Taking a Photo Maskless Is Not the Only Reason Eric Garcetti Is Holding His Breath

Naomi Seligman, former communications director for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appears to be on a mission to ensure Garcetti does not become Ambassador to India.

RedState has reported on Garcetti‘s ineptitude and corruption. From his failure to address the Los Angeles’ homelessness crisis, to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power scandals, to his questionable charities and associations, there is a boatload of criminal negligence and malfeasance that should have tanked any aspirations that Garcetti had for higher office.

However, on January 12, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to advance Garcetti’s nomination to the full Senate.

A Senate panel on Wednesday, Jan. 12, backed Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s ambassadorship to India, sending the nomination to a full Senate vote, along with several other picks.

Garcetti was not present for the procedural hearing, during which the vote to support his nomination was done as part of a batch of ambassadorship picks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

President Joe Biden announced the nomination of Garcetti, who is unable to run again for mayor due to term limits, last July. His term ends in December 2022, unless he leaves earlier for the ambassador post. Garcetti is a former Biden campaign chair and a longtime political ally.

It is unclear when the confirmation vote on Garcetti’s nomination is expected to be taken up by the full Senate.

The committee approval comes despite concerns that Garcetti ignored instances of sexual harassment by Rick Jacobs, a key fundraiser and former staffer in his office.

As RedState also reported, Garcetti’s nomination was first being slow walked. When Garcetti was called up to D.C. to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, only one Senator, New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, asked him about the sexual harassment lawsuit. Garcetti did what he has done in depositions and interviews since the suit was filed: claimed he had no knowledge of the harassment.

This move before the committee gave Seligman and her attorney the opening they needed.

On February 2, 2021, an organization called Whistleblower Aid filed a formal complaint to the following entities:

  • Public Integrity Section, Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice
  • The Office of the California Attorney General
  • The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office
  • The California State Auditor’s Office, Investigations Division
  • The California State Personnel Board; and
  • The City of Los Angeles Ethics Commission

Quite the laundry list of local and federal criminal agencies, reflecting that Seligman and her counsel are serious in their focus. The primary charge is felony perjury, but also outlines cases for criminal conspiracy, unlawful whistleblower retaliation, and other credible charges.

The complaint brings the receipts, from emails, deposition testimony, and documented news sources that show Garcetti was well aware of Jacobs’ behavior, did nothing about it, and even demanded it be covered up. In doing so, but then denying any knowledge of Jacobs’ alleged harassment, Garcetti willfully gave false information to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

What has not been previously reported, and housed in this complaint, is additional testimony from individuals who also allege that Jacobs harassed or assaulted them.

Perjury used to only apply to jury trials. The crime has recently been redefined to incorporate other legal proceedings, such as civil lawsuits, grand juries, and congressional committee hearings.

If the full Senate chooses to consider Seligman’s complaint, and it factors into their decision making, Garcetti’s nomination could be effectively denied, and he could face up to five years imprisonment for lying under oath.

And that’s just the starters.

From a redacted version of the complaint:

I am a lawyer representing Naomi Seligman, a whistleblower disclosing substantial evidence that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti committed felony perjury with respect to his role, over many years, covering up repeated and egregious sexual assault and harrassment by his close advisor Rick Jacobs against more than a dozen victims, male and female. The incidents extended over a period of years, including when Mr. Jacobs served as the Mayor’s Deputy Chief of Staff among other senior roles.

Garcetti is President Biden’s nominee to become the next United States Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of India.

Garcetti’s nomination is now being considered by the United States Senate.

[…]

My client personally suffered sexual battery by Mr. Jacobs. Ms. Seligman served as Director of Communications to the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles from March 2015 until September 2017. She has testified under penalty of perjury that on April 14, 2016, in front of several subordinate colleagues, Mr. Jacobs forcefully grabbed her lower back, pinned her arms down, pressed himself against her, and held and kissed her for an extended amount of time.

Unfortunately, many others had similar or worse experiences with Jacobs.

Garcetti knew all about Jacobs’ abuses: The mayor heard about many incidents from his staff and others, and personally witnessed multiple episodes. But Garcetti never disciplined Jacobs or otherwise held him accountable.

The complaint goes on to say that Seligman has legally documented and testimony evidence that shows Garcetti ordered the entire mayoral staff to cover up Jacobs’ actions and behavior.

For example, when my client notified Ana Guerrero, then the mayor’s Chief of Staff, of her assault, Guerrero did not act surprised; instead Guerrero told Ms. Seligman that no complaints would be tolerated because Mr. Jacobs was important to the mayor. Garcetti’s motive was apparently to protect his close friend and top aide.

It then outlines how Garcetti lied under deposition testimony and shaded the truth to the legacy media. The complaint states that Seligman is calling for Garcetti’s removal from any public office, and for his immediate prosecution.

My client reasonably believes Garcetti’s perjury, further to his complicity in and coverup for Jacobs’ abuse over many years, renders him unfit to hold public office, and urges your agencies to investigate and prosecute immediately.

Where Seligman and her attorney bring new information to the table is in the testimony of other individuals not named in Garza’s lawsuit or in other news sources, who corroborate Jacobs’ craven patterns. Among them, former Chief Counsel to the Mayor Julie Ciardullo, Communications Staffer Alex Comisar, and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement Henry Casas.

Ms. Seligman further testified that, on innumerable occasions, she had seen Mr. Jacobs grab people in unwanted hugs and engage in other inappropriate physical interactions and gestures. Other men have similarly confided in my client that Mr. Jacobs has sexually harassed and/or inappropriately touched them.

In one episode, my client saw Jacobs looking over at a member of the Mayor’s security detail while he picked up a piece of arugula at a Mayoral fundraiser and moved it in and out of his open mouth in a crude sexual gesture.

Julie Ciardullo: In 2017, then-chief counsel Julie Ciardullo told my client about an episode in a U.S. Senate building elevator with Jacobs, Garcetti and others. Ms. Seligman stated under oath what Ms. Ciardullo told her: “Jacobs blocked her into a corner and started pushing into her, back and forth, and she was asking, begging [Jacobs] to stop, and he just kept pushing into her, pushing into her, and finally, the Mayor [Garcetti] had to intervene and tell him to get off of her.”

Alex Comisar: In 2019, Alex Comisar, a member of the Mayor’s communications staff, complained repeatedly to my client about harassment, and sent my client a text message saying: “Got hit on by Rick again”

Another witness, Henry Casas, confirmed Jacobs’ behavior: “‘Massaging the shoulders, hugging. Inappropriate, I guess, things that would come out of his mouth, … I definitely was uncomfortable,’ Casas said.”

The complaint further outlines not only Garcetti’s disregard of the allegations against Jacobs, but Garcetti’s stated intention to continue to work with Jacobs, even after reports of Jacobs’ harassment were documented and Jacobs had been officially removed from his official staff position.

As late as 2017, Garcetti has ensured Jacobs remained active in city affairs, first appointing Jacobs CEO of the Accelerator for America, Garcetti’s urban economic solutions non-profit. Garcetti authorized Jacobs’ travel with his delegation to Europe to secure the 2028 Olympic bid for Los Angeles. Garcetti also made Jacobs a director of the Democratic Midterm Victory Fund—an active fundraising post that Jacobs held through 2018.

Rick Jacobs continues to be a financial benefactor and power broker to candidates for political office. He runs RDJ Strategic Advisors, a firm he founded, which has labor, investment, foundation and other clients.

Beyond the Senate confirmation, the taxpayers of Los Angeles should be demanding to know why Jacobs continues to work in close concert with Garcetti, and why he is allowed to feed off the city trough. Frankly, we should be asking that of Garcetti too. Garcetti has been mostly incognito since Biden tapped him for the ambassadorship back in May of 2021. However, Garcetti has shot himself in the foot with the recent controversy over him posing for photos without a mask at last Sunday’s NFC Championship game in Los Angeles. California is still under a state of emergency, and Los Angeles County, along with the SoFi Stadium facility where the playoff game was held, has strict mask mandates. In the feckless fashion he is known for, Garcetti said,

“I’ll take personal responsibility and if it makes you and everybody else happy or even the photographs with people where I’m literally holding my breath for two seconds I won’t even do that.”

Garcetti was once touted as presidential material; now he can barely make it past a committee hearing for an ambassadorship. If the Senate finds basis in Naomi Seligman’s complaint, this could be the end of the road for Garcetti and his illusions of greater glory.

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