As we covered both in July and on Monday, the man who served as “Executive Mayor” to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and is still his most-trusted advisor, has been accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting multiple men who were employed either in the Mayor’s office or as part of his security detail. One man, LAPD Officer Matthew Garza, filed suit against the city over the conduct, which he said Garcetti witnessed and found funny.
When Garza’s suit was filed, Garcetti’s office was silent, and Rick Jacobs, the accused assailant, issued a brief statement saying the charges were completely fabricated.
Garcetti, who was an early supporter of Joe Biden’s presidential run and co-chair of the Vice Presidential search committee, didn’t see any impact on his own career as a result of the allegations and felt no pressure to distance himself from Jacobs – so he didn’t.
On Monday, freelance journalist and former Democrat political consultant Yashar Ali posted an in-depth, emotional first-person account of his experiences with Jacobs, saying that between 2005 through 2015, Jacobs forcibly kissed him on the lips, even commenting about how soft Ali’s lips were, on numerous occasions, always at events and in front of other people.
Ali had confronted Jacobs about the conduct and informed Garcetti’s office at the time Garza’s lawsuit was filed and received a complete denial from Jacobs and, after a brief conversation with one of Garcetti’s aides, silence from the Mayor’s office. In his conversations with insiders in the office, he found that two more employees had been the recipients of this unwanted sexual touching from Jacobs and that Jacobs’ behavior was somewhat of an open secret among the staff.
After Ali published his experiences, he gave an on-air interview to Fox LA, and the LA Times covered the story. Throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning, Fox LA reporters repeatedly asked Garcetti’s office for comment and why Jacobs was still serving as head of the Mayor’s non-profit and still his top adviser. Crickets.
Garcetti was set to moderate a virtual event for the Biden campaign Tuesday, which was set to begin at 2 PM Pacific time. About an hour prior, Ali tweeted that “after my story was published about the way he handled the sexual misconduct of his top aide, the campaign removed him from the event.”
NEWS: LA Mayor @ericgarcetti was set to moderate a virtual conversation for the Biden campaign today, but after my story was published about the way he handled the sexual misconduct of his top aide, the campaign removed him from the event
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 20, 2020
The discussion was to be about foreign policy, a bit of a weak spot for a mayor wanting to become President of the United States, and some heavy-hitters were slated to appear: Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright.
That wasn’t the end of Garcetti’s no good, very bad day. He was also taken off the campaign’s “swing state local press hit” beat and sources within Team Biden were telling people, “He’s radioactive threat level 8.”
My sources in the Biden campaign say @Eric_Garcetti was also supposed to do swing state local press hits today as well. “He’s radioactive threat level 8” is what my source said. cc: @yashar @dakotacdsmith
— Michael Trujillo (@mikehtrujillo) October 20, 2020
That got Garcetti’s attention – eventually. By evening, Garcetti’s Deputy Comm. Director issued a two-sentence statement.
UPDATE: @MayorOfLA 's Deputy Comm. Director, Alex Comisar sent this out on his behalf:
"I take seriously all allegations of harassment. Rick Jacobs has stepped away from his non-profit and volunteer political work." – Mayor Eric Garcetti https://t.co/tqVG7Gmodh
— Alexandria Hernandez (@AlexandriaFOXLA) October 21, 2020
The statement reads:
“I take seriously all allegations of harassment. Rick Jacobs has stepped away from his non-profit and volunteer political work.”
Jacobs also issued a statement announcing the move:
“For the past seventeen years, I have dedicated myself to advocacy and public service. I do not want this to be a distraction. Therefore, I will take a leave from my non-profit work and my volunteer political work with the Mayor.”
In Ali’s post, he remarked that Garcetti and his wife, Amy Wakefield, had a dysfunctional relationship with Jacobs and seemed determined to take his advice, however questionable, and stand by him no matter what. It looks like once Garcetti saw his future with a potential Biden administration threatened, he at least symbolically axed Jacobs.
Garcetti’s future actions regarding Officer Garza’s lawsuit and getting rid of the toxic environment in his office will show how seriously he takes these allegations.