In July 2020, an LAPD officer assigned to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s security detail filed a lawsuit against the city claiming that one of Garcetti’s top advisors, Rick Jacobs, repeatedly sexually harassed and assaulted him in Garcetti’s presence. Officer Matthew Garza alleges that Garcetti “took no action to stop the comments from being made or even identify the comments as being inappropriate. On some occasions, the Mayor would laugh at Jacobs’ crude comments.”
At the time, there was no response from the Mayor’s office, but Jacobs told Fox LA:
UPDATE: Statement from Rick Jacobs, the accused Garcetti advisor. “This lawsuit is a work of pure fiction, and is out of left field. Officer Garza and I worked together for many years without incident. I will vigorously defend myself, my character and my reputation.”
There hasn’t been any further news about the case, until today. Freelance journalist Yashar Ali, who worked in Democrat politics before changing careers (including serving as Gavin Newsom’s chief of staff when Newsom was Mayor of San Francisco) published a first-person account Monday, alleging that Jacobs’ misconduct was an open secret among Garcetti’s staff – and that Jacobs had sexually assaulted him on multiple occasions. Ali wrote:
News of the lawsuit, filed July 13, was a moment that many Garcetti staffers had been dreading: when allegations of sexual misconduct by Jacobs, and the acceptance of it by the mayor—long an open secret among staff—would be exposed, putting the administration in the crosshairs of a possible investigation.
The allegations laid out in Garza’s complaint sounded familiar to me because, over the course of a decade, from 2005 through 2015, Jacobs used to forcibly kiss me on the lips when I encountered him through my previous work in politics. After Garza’s lawsuit became public, I confronted Jacobs via text message and also alerted one of Garcetti’s top city hall aides about my past experiences with Jacobs.
Ali brought the receipts, publishing his text message exchange with Jacobs:
3. The reason the allegations in the lawsuit sounded familiar to me was because Rick Jacobs used to forcibly kiss me when I worked in politics. After the lawsuit was filed in July and Jacobs denied the allegations I confronted him in a text message. https://t.co/icvQYPOmzl pic.twitter.com/MxItg8Zucq
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 20, 2020
Ali is coming forward now because, even though it’s been three months since these serious allegations have been made against Jacobs, Jacobs is still Garcetti’s top advisor. And, sources have told him Jacobs has other troubling behaviors, and that there are multiple, other victims.
Garza isn’t the only one who says he has been treated this way. Two sources told me that Jacobs grabbed them without consent and forcibly kissed them at fundraisers in front of Garcetti. The mayor’s reaction? To watch and then laugh it off as he continued to greet people.
A former Garcetti aide told me that Jacobs once grabbed them and forcibly kissed them on the lips. And another source told me they were warned that Garcetti’s biggest liability was Jacobs and that the office could be sued for sexual harassment any day.
Jacobs was not only known for his routine sexual misconduct, sources said, but he had a reputation as a bully whose rage often could not be contained and made the work environment within the mayor’s office hostile.
Ali was going to write about his experience in July, but wanted to give the Mayor’s office a heads up.
4. I thought about tweeting about this in July, but first I checked in with a senior aide in Mayor @ericgarcetti‘s office to give them a heads up.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 20, 2020
As a journalist, Ali didn’t want to put himself in the middle of a story, he said, but said he felt he was left with no choice:
“Several prominent news outlets have slow-walked this story. I also ethically can’t report out this news without revealing that I have been a victim of Jacobs’ misconduct as well.”
Ali said he often encountered Jacobs at fundraisers during the time he worked in politics, considered him a friend, and that he attended “at least a half dozen” dinners Jacobs hosted in his home with “prominent power players in Los Angeles politics, culture, and entertainment,” and that the times Jacobs forcibly kissed him always happened in front of others, at functions.
Jacobs would grab my face and kiss me on the lips—always twice—and he would turn to other people who witnessed it and say, “He has the softest lips.” Jacobs would also hug me in the same way Garza described in his complaint. A source described it to me as a “power hug,” but Jacobs’ hugs were more than hugs. I remember commenting to him once that he was hugging me so hard I felt like my teeth were going to break. (And besides, no one should be hugged without their consent.)
Ali said he never initiated physical contact with Jacobs or was receptive to it, but that he never told him to stop and they weren’t in a workplace environment.
But forcibly kissing someone on the lips isn’t normal interaction between friends and unquestionably requires consent. (It is also considered assault under California’s penal code.) Over the years, I moved on and didn’t give those interactions much thought. After the #MeToo movement was reignited and I interviewed many women and some men about their experiences with sexual assault, harassment and rape, I thought about Jacobs and what he had done to me, and I shared my frustration with friends about how I had responded to his assaults.
After sending a text to a Garcetti aide, Ali spoke to that aide and gave them the full story about what happened and held off on writing about his experience, hoping that Garcetti would take action. It appears that Garcetti has swept the issue under the rug, which could be political suicide.
Ali believes that Garcetti’s actions are motivated by his ambition for national office (Garcetti is reportedly on the short list for a position in a potential Biden cabinet), and the blind allegiance Garcetti and his wife have for their “advisor”:
“Garcetti is so ambitious, sources say, he hasn’t just been measuring the drapes in the Oval Office, he has been planning his presidential library. For 18 months in 2017 and 2018, Jacobs worked with Garcetti to build a potential presidential campaign, traveling to all the key early states with the mayor. Multiple sources say Jacobs came to the table with a Rolodex of progressive donors who could contribute money to Garcetti’s campaign and political and philanthropic causes.”
Jacobs almost always gets his way, sources told Ali, “despite best efforts by other officials and advisers to convince Garcetti and Wakeland that Jacobs’ counsel is misguided.”
In the hours since Ali published his experiences, the L.A. Times has published a story about the “bombshell” revelations, and Ali gave an exclusive interview to Fox 11 Los Angeles. It’ll be interesting to see if Garcetti faces more political fallout, or if actual investigations occur.