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Garcetti’s office made a harassment report to the Senate

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The office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has submitted a non-public, city-ordered report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding allegations of sexual harassment in his office, a spokesman for Garcetti confirmed Thursday.

The report, marked confidential by the city by court order, was turned over in November to the Senate committee reviewing President Biden’s nomination of Garcetti as US ambassador to India, Garcetti spokesman Alex Comisar said.

The board approved Garcetti for the position in January.

The report is now being sought by Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) in his investigation into whether Garcetti knew of allegations of sexual misconduct by former aide Rick Jacobs.

“It exists and we want to see it,” a Grassley employee said in the report on Wednesday. “It would help us better understand the extent to which these matters have been investigated.”

The city hired outside investigator Leslie Ellis to compile the report after LAPD officer Matthew Garza sued the city in 2020, alleging that he was sexually harassed by Jacobs. The report cost almost $100,000 in taxpayers’ money.

Under the protection order signed by the judge in the Garza case, the city can mark documents as confidential. Access to the confidential documents is limited to a group that includes the court, the parties to the case and any other person to whom the determining party consents in writing pursuant to the order.

Prosecutors declined to release the report to the Times. The report “is confidential, as are the recipients of the report,” said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, when asked about the report in October.

Garcetti called the report independent in a press conference on November 17, 2021.

“I wanted to make sure there was no political oversight of this and that [it] was a truly independent investigation,” Garcetti said. “But I heard they locked it. You’ve spoken to dozens of people and got a decent result, but that’s not under my control. I didn’t see it myself.”

The next day, a Garcetti spokesman said the mayor had been briefed on the report’s findings.

Some former Garcetti aides who gave evidence in the Garza case declined to be interviewed by Ellis. A spokesman for Naomi Seligman, a former assistant, said she did not participate because “based on what she had seen from previous investigations [she] did not have confidence that it would be a full and honest report.”

Garza was questioned, but “we do not give any credence to the report,” said his attorney Greg Smith. He said there was no direct testimony or recordings in the report.

The report was presented to the panel as part of an agreement that senators would keep the findings confidential, Comisar said Thursday. The mayor’s office shared the report with a contact at the State Department, who made it available to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said.

A White House spokesman did not respond when asked if the White House had received a copy of the report.

A source close to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmed that the panel received the Ellis report from the State Department.

A spokesman for the committee said the committee does not share details of documents it receives. “However, we always receive all possible information and make sure to carefully and thoroughly check all relevant information,” said the spokesman.

A city-ordered report alleging harassment against then-alderman Jose Huizar in 2013 was not released because Huizar was a city employee and employee matters are considered confidential, a city human resources representative said at the time.

If the Ellis report addresses confidential personnel matters, it should not be released, said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School.

Garza’s attorney provided The Times with a document showing that Garza had received a letter from the city clerk’s office in September 2020 directing him to attend the interview with Ellis. The letter warned Garza that he could face possible termination if he didn’t cooperate.

Wilcox, the city spokesman, did not respond to a question about what role, if any, the city clerk and human resources played in the report.

Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced last week that he had put the Senate vote on Garcetti’s nomination on hold.

Garcetti has testified that he neither witnessed nor was told anything wrong. Jacobs has denied molesting anyone.

Grassley referenced the Ellis report in a statement last week. The review “reportedly found no wrongdoing by the mayor or his staff. However, information provided by several whistleblowers strongly suggests this investigation was incomplete at best,” Grassley said.

Grassley also said he received “numerous credible allegations from multiple whistleblowers” who claimed Garcetti ignored Jacobs’ alleged misconduct.

In his lawsuit against the city, Garza alleges that Jacobs molested him for several years and that the mayor observed the behavior but did not intervene. In some instances, Garcetti joked about Jacobs’ rude remarks, claims the lawsuit, which the mayor has denied.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that Grassley “can voice his opposition, as is every senator’s right,” but cannot prevent a vote.

“We’re hoping for a Senate vote soon,” Psaki said, adding that Biden remains confident in Garcetti.

Garcetti’s office released a statement Thursday saying the mayor “supports the release of this independent report so the public can see its conclusions.”

Times contributor James Rainey contributed to this report.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-03-17/garcettis-office-gave-confidential-city-ordered-report-on-harassment-investigation-to-senate-panel Garcetti’s office made a harassment report to the Senate

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