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The Mayor Eric Garcetti Depositions
Today, my attorneys, Ted Boutrous and Michael Dore, sent a letter to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office demanding that it authorize the release of several deposition transcripts from a civil lawsuit against the city.
That lawsuit—filed last summer by Matthew Garza, a former LAPD officer who served on Mayor Eric Garcetti’s security detail—alleges a history of sexual harassment by Rick Jacobs, a longtime top aide to Garcetti. It also accuses Garcetti of having witnessed some of this harassment.
Deputy City Attorney Doug Lyon has designated at least three depositions—including Jacobs’—as confidential. Lyon was able to do this because he, on behalf of the city attorney, and Garza’s attorney, Gregory Smith, entered into a stipulated protective order, which is common in civil lawsuits. This order gives the power to either side to designate a deposition as confidential without giving any reason.
According to multiple sources, the depositions—from Naomi Seligman, Garcetti’s former communications director; Jeremy Bernard, former president and CEO of the LA Mayor’s Fund and former White House social secretary and special assistant to President Barack Obama; and Jacobs—do not contain confidential information, such as private medical details, but do include damaging information about Garcetti’s conduct.
This selective cloaking may be OK when it comes to a civil lawsuit that doesn’t involve government officials or taxpayer dollars, but I believe it is unacceptable when it concerns a lawsuit filed against a city—particularly when it involves significant allegations against the chief executive of that city, in this case, Garcetti.
Last July, when Garza’s lawsuit was filed, most of the media scrutiny was applied to Jacobs, who was the one accused of harassment.
But in October, based on interviews with more than a dozen sources, I wrote a story revealing that Garcetti had repeatedly witnessed Jacobs—who had significant influence in the mayor’s governmental, political, and personal life—sexually harass and assault others and didn’t do anything to stop him or hold him accountable for the behavior.
In that same story, I also revealed that Jacobs had forcibly kissed me on the lips many times over the course of 10 years when I was active in California politics.
My admission and story led to the matter becoming national news and placed pressure on Garcetti to formally cut ties with Jacobs, something he had failed to do before, which concerned people in his world. A day after my story was published, Jacobs stepped down from nonprofit work tied to Garcetti.
Garcetti has consistently denied that he knew anything about Jacobs’ behavior or had witnessed it. But since my first story was published, dozens of sources have refuted that, telling me that they saw Jacobs sexually assault and harass people in social settings when Garcetti was present.
Subsequent stories of mine revealed that Garcetti and his wife, Amy Wakeland, had been repeatedly warned that Jacobs’ conduct, and their unwillingness to do anything about it, would lead to their downfall.
According to one adviser who spoke to me, in the fall of 2018, Garcetti told the adviser that “I can’t believe Rick worked at City Hall for three years and we didn’t get sued.”
As the controversy around the lawsuit and various allegations continued to grow, it damaged Garcetti’s career prospects. He was being considered for a Cabinet appointment by then-President-elect Joe Biden, but, in the end, according to three sources, he wasn’t offered a role he wanted because of concerns he wouldn’t be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Now, according to multiple sources and stories in Axios, CNN, and the LA Times, Garcetti is poised to be nominated as U.S. ambassador to India, which would mean he would have to resign as LA mayor a year before his term ends.
Garcetti’s likely ascent to such a powerful position in India—a nuclear power and G-20 country—makes the release of these lawsuit depositions even more critical. There appears to be no good reason to keep them confidential beyond protecting Garcetti’s career.
As my attorneys noted in their letter, “Mayor Garcetti has long touted the virtues of open government. … That is all we seek from the parties here.”
If you have newsworthy information about Mayor Garcetti, first lady Amy Wakeland, or any current or former member of the Garcetti administration, please reach out to me. All of your communication will be considered fully off the record unless you tell me otherwise.
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