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Meet Eric Garcetti – US prospective ambassador to India, who falsely cast aspersions on CAA and has ties with Chinese intel front groups

As someone who has vowed to engage with 'civil society' and make sensitive subjects pertaining to India his 'core agenda', the authorities in the government must be wary of Eric Garcetti.

Eric Garcetti, the former Mayor of Los Angeles (2013-2022), is slated to be the US ambassador to India. On March 8 this year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced his nomination for the diplomatic position with a 13-8 majority vote.

US President Joe Biden initially nominated Garcetti as US ambassador to India in July 2021. But when the former LA Mayor appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in December of that year, he made contentious remarks about the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

On being asked about how he would deal with the ‘human rights situation’ in India, Eric Garcetti had remarked, “I intend to engage directly with civil society. There are groups that are actively fighting for human rights…They will get direct engagement from me.”

“These will not just be afterthoughts for me…I have fought for human rights on 4 different continents and will be a core part of what I will pursue with my Indian counterpart,” he had said then.

On being falsely told that the Citizenship Amendment Act will discriminate against the Muslim population in India, Eric Garcetti did not object but instead claimed that it would be a core agenda.

“I will not only just bring it up but it will not be something in the end as an obligation. It will be a core piece of what I will be engaging my Indian counterparts with…” he was heard as saying. Eric Garcetti thus alluded to the disinformation that CAA is discriminatory in nature.

This was despite the fact that the disinformation was debunked by then. But this did not stop the former LA Mayor to insinuate that the false claims about the humanitarian law are supposedly true.

It must be mentioned that the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed by the Indian Parliament to fast-track citizenship of religious minorities who fled from the neighbouring Islamic republics of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and settled in India.

Sexual harassment row and lobbying for the ambassadorship

Prior to his nomination for the position of US ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti was accused of being a mute spectator to sexual harassment committed by his top aide and advisor Rick Jacobs.

In July 2020 (almost a year before his nomination by the Biden administration), Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) veteran named Matthew Garza filed a lawsuit about Garcetti being a witness to Jacobs’ routine sexual harassment of him and still not doing anything about it.

“Mayor Garcetti was present on many, if not most of the occasions when Jacobs made sexually inappropriate comments, but the Mayor took no action to stop the comments from being made or even identify the comments as being inappropriate,” he said in his complaint.

“On some occasions, the Mayor would laugh at Jacobs’ crude comments,” the victim had lamented. Journalist Yashar Ali, who too has been a victim of Jacobs’ advances, pointed out that other victims were also harassed in front of Eric Garcetti but he took no action against his confidante.

In November 2020, The Los Angeles Times published a picture wherein Rick Jacobs was seen putting his hand over a victim’s crotch and Eric Garcetti smiling in the vicinity.

So when the Biden administration officially nominated the former LA Mayor for the position of US ambassador to India, it was privy to allegations against Garcetti of being indifferent to sexual harassment in his own office.

Nonetheless, he was able to get away with it and his name was also cleared by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the diplomatic position in January 2022. However, things took a turn in March of that year when two senators, namely, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley put a hold on Eric Gracetti’s nomination.

Screengrab of the news report by Politico

After witnessing their son’s career in jeopardy, Politico reported that Eric Garcetti’s parents Sukey and Gil Garcetti came to his rescue. They hired a national lobbying firm (McGuireWoods Consulting) in April 2022 to advance his ambassador nomination in the US Senate.

While it took time for the dust to settle down, the move indeed paid dividends when the Biden administration re-nominated Garcetti for US Ambassador to India on January 3 this year.

When the matter came up before Senate Foreign Relations Committee this year, even the Opposition camp voted in his favour and advanced his nomination.

“It’s in our national security interest to have an ambassador immediately in place in India in order to balance China, work with the US throughout the Indo-Pacific…He has an imperfect resume, but the skills to succeed in this capacity,” Republican Senator Todd Young justified his decision to vote for Eric Garcetti.

Ties of Eric Garcetti with Chinese intel groups

As per an investigation conducted by Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF), Garcetti has met with members belonging to several Chinese Communist Party (CCP) front groups.

These groups include the United Front Work Department (UFWD), the China Overseas Exchange Association (COEA) and the China Overseas Friendship Association (COFA).

The Daily Caller reported that Eric Garcetti received $2,00,000 (₹1.65 crores) from the Walter and Shirley Wang Charitable Foundation in July 2014 and $1,000,000 (₹8.25 crores) in 2020 to his ‘Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles’ (which was set up in 2014).

Walter Wang also donated $1,400 (₹1.15 lakhs) to the 2017 mayoral reelection campaign of Eric Garcetti. Interestingly, Wang has served as the Executive Director of CCP front groups including COEA and COFA.

“We need to have relationships with government leaders…We want to influence the government leaders to make the right decisions so that we can be more competitive,” a close aide of Eric Garcetti quoted Wang as saying.

Coincidentally, Wang’s co-Executive Director at the Chinese intel groups, Dominic Ng, is also a close aide of Eric Garcetti. The organisation where Ng serves as CEO aka ‘East-West Bank’ has made a donation of $20000 to ‘Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles’.

The Daily Caller has also unearthed Eric Garcetter’s meetings with Chinese intel group members, both in China and the United States. “The CCP’s United Front is playing the long game…” remarked Chinese intelligence expert, Ina Mitchell.

“They will donate to a politician and draw upon their well-established network of others who are compromised in the U.S. political establishment to help further the career of that politician in a direction that they can optimize — sometimes this is done over decades,” she further added.

Conclusion

Interestingly, the nomination of Eric Garcetti as US ambassador to India comes at a time when the country is heading towards its General Elections in 2024.

While some have suggested that ‘regime change’ operations are already underway in India with the help of foreign powers, his alleged close ties with Chinese intel groups have raised eyebrows.

As someone who has vowed to engage with ‘civil society’ and make sensitive subjects pertaining to India his ‘core agenda’, the authorities in the government must be wary of his designs.

Recently, the US embassy in India endorsed controversial radio jockey Sayema Rahaman for Women’s History Month. And it is now seen as a precursor to Eric Garcetti’s tenure in the country.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Duttahttps://dibakardutta.in/
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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