May 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden weighs posting LA Mayor Garcetti to India

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is seen delivering a speech.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Photo: Marcus Yam/Pool/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

President Biden is considering naming Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to a high-profile ambassadorship, possibly India, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: The potential exit of the Democratic executive for the nation's second-largest city would come as L.A. faces record homelessness and a court order to find shelter for a massive Skid Row population by the end of September. It could further destabilize California politics amid a recall attempt against Gov. Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat.

The big picture: Garcetti was a co-chair of Biden's campaign and remains a key political ally. India, with 1.4 billion people, is the world's most populous democracy — giving its political and economic future outsized stakes.

  • The Biden administration has signaled India will play a key role in helping to counter China's ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • In March, the president held his first virtual leader's summit with members of the so-called Quad, including Japan, India, Australia and the United States, to underscore his commitment to the region's democracies.
  • India is currently in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 20 million cases, and the true death toll is believed to greatly exceed an official count of 220,000+.

Details: Garcetti, 50, is one of several candidates under consideration for the India posting, a person familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

  • While lists of potential ambassadors were first presented to Biden in March, the sources said many final decisions have not been made.
  • The president is expected to announce his first political nominations for ambassadorships this month, rewarding donors and political allies who are not career Foreign Services Officers.
  • When Biden does release his picks, it will be a roadmap to the true players in his orbit.

Flashback: Garcetti mulled running for president himself. He passed and then announced in December he also would not be joining the Biden administration.

  • "As the administration reached out to me about serving, I let them know early this week that my city needs me now, and then I want to be here and that I need to be here," he said during a news conference.
  • Garcetti won reelection in March of 2017 for a five-and-a-half year term. He is term-limited, and the election for his successor is scheduled for Fall 2022.
  • Garcetti's Cabinet prospects faded with the attention brought by a sexual harassment lawsuit against one of his former aides, Rick Jacobs, brought by a longtime bodyguard, Matthew Garza.
  • The allegations received more attention after journalist Yashar Ali reported about his own experience of being repeatedly forcibly kissed by Jacobs when Ali was working in California politics. Ali also reported that Garcetti was aware of other potential misconduct by Jacobs.
  • After the election in November, Black Lives Matter demonstrators protested outside his house, demanding Biden not give him an appointment.
  • A Garcetti spokesman declined to comment.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include more details about allegations against a former Garcetti aide.

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