Biden’s India envoy pick should be charged with perjury: Ex-Spokeswoman

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The one-time chief spokeswoman of Eric Garcetti, the Mayor of Los Angeles and President Joe Biden’s nominee to be Ambassador to India, has filed a complaint with local, state and federal prosecutors, demanding that he be prosecuted for perjury for repeatedly denying that he knew about another former aides alleged sexual misconduct, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Garcetti has already had his nomination reported out of committee despite the swirling allegations, the Daily Mail reported a day later after the Los Angeles Times on February 7.

A non-profit law firm sent a 31-page letter on behalf of Naomi Seligman to the US Department of Justice, the California Attorney General’s office and Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon last week, accusing Garcetti of lying and conspiring with top staffers to cover up multiple accusations of sexual harassment against Rick Jacobs, the Mayor’s former deputy chief of staff, Los Angeles Times had reported.

Seligman said she hopes felony charges will be filed against the Mayor for allegedly lying under oath, in a legal deposition and in testimony to a US Senate committee.

She said she hopes that the letter also will have a political impact — causing the US Senate to block Garcetti’s confirmation as Washington’s Ambassador to India, Los Angeles Times had reported.

The allegations were forwarded to more than half the members of the Senate, said Seligman’s lawyers, who also filed the complaints with the California State Personnel Board, the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission and the California State Auditor’s Office, under provisions of the state’s whistleblower protection law, the report said.

“Senators should be outraged that someone nominated to represent our country in a key diplomatic post would lie to their faces so brazenly,” Seligman said in a statement.

“It’s time for them to take a serious look at the evidence that I and others have presented and live up to the commitment that many of them have made to protect victims of predatory behavior in the workplace.”

Jacobs has repeatedly denied that he sexually harassed anyone when he worked as one of Garcetti’s top aides and political advisors, claims that became public in 2020 in a lawsuit filed by a former member of the Mayor’s LAPD security detail.

Garcetti has said he knew nothing of the accusations by Officer Matthew Garza, and later others, until the latter’s lawsuit became public in July of 2020, Los Angeles Times reported.

“There is nothing new here — and these false claims about the mayor are just as ridiculous now as they were when they were first made,” a statement from Garcetti’s office said.

“The Mayor stands by his testimony unequivocally, and more than a dozen witnesses have testified under oath that he was never made aware of any improper behaviour.”

President Biden nominated Garcetti last July to the India post. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination in January, after only one senator asked a question about the Jacobs matter, Los Angeles Times reported.

Most political observers expect Garcetti to be confirmed by the full Senate in the coming months, meaning he would leave City Hall before his second term ends in December, the report said.

The letter from Seligman’s lawyers provides no new evidence but summarizes what has emerged over several months in media accounts and through the release of depositions in the Garza lawsuit, as per the report.

Daily Mail reported that Garcetti denied the allegations, and did so again following the latest complaint, which the LA Times reported.

The White House told DailyMail.com when asked for comment: “Mayor Garcetti has been clear that he takes any allegations of harassment very seriously and has made clear this type of misconduct is unacceptable in his office in any form. He has also said that he never witnessed this behavior nor was told about it prior to the litigation. The President has confidence in Mayor Garcetti and believes he’ll be an excellent representative in India.”

The complaint comes after Garcetti had a relatively smooth confirmation hearing, with the Greg Jacobs matter barely coming up. Senate Democrats are able to confirm him on a simple majority vote if they can keep all of their members together.

(Sanjeev Sharma can be reached at Sanjeev.s@ians.in)

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