The LA Mayor Eric Garcetti was full of smiles last month. On July 14, 2028, the Summer Olympics will be returning to the City of Angels and he helped make it possible. At the news conference, the mayor was beaming, “We are going to see those Olympics come back and the countdown begins today. We are so excited.” He was the new golden boy of the Democratic Party.
Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee, joined the mayor on stage. Fox 11, reported, “It will mark the third time Los Angeles has hosted the Games, following 1932 and 1984. The city had initially bid to host the 2024 Games, but it was awarded the 2028 Olympics instead in a unique compromise agreement that put the 2024 event in Paris.”
For Garcetti, this was years in the making. In 2015, USA Today followed the LA mayor has he lobbied to get the 2024 Olympics to go to his city. “It’s hard to miss Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in the crowd of conference delegates. In the lobby, hallways and bars of a Washington hotel. There he is at a reception in downtown Washington, exchanging pleasantries and business cards with everyone around him. This is no ordinary political campaign, though. It’s the real launch of Garcetti’s quest to bring the Olympics to Los Angeles in 2024.”
Losing the 2024 bid to Paris seemed to make the mayor only work harder, and make new friends, ones who know how to grease the skids of international sports committees–Qatar.
Over the past five years, Eric Garcetti has developed an odd attachment to the tyrannical regime hosting the 2018 World Cup.
In 2016, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani met with Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti at the Getty House to discuss potential areas of cooperation between the Middle Eastern Islamic Kingdom, which has several alleged ties to terrorism, and the City of LA.
In 2020 Qatar donated $5 million to Garcetti’s slush fund, which looking back at today, appears to be a case of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”
The Nation explains: The 2022 Qatar World Cup is a human rights atrocity dressed up like a soccer tournament. More than 6,500 migrant workers have died in the petro-dictatorship since it was awarded the tournament, with more than two dozen perishing during the rush to construct stadiums. But Qatar’s ruling al-Thani family has a counterpunch for those criticizing their bloody hosting of the Cup: billions upon billions of dollars to purchase positive publicity in the lead-up to the month-long mega-event. They are presenting the World Cup—one of the most-watched sporting events on Earth—to puff up their regime, but the fallout around migrant deaths has been so widespread that they have been compelled to buy favorable relations in cities only too happy to take their money. This is a form of what is often referred to as “sportswashing.”
Take Los Angeles, which is slated to host the 2028 Summer Olympics. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has been quietly aiding and abetting the Qatar World Cup in return for funding for the struggling city. In 2020, his “Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles” accepted a $5 million donation from the Consulate General of the State of Qatar to help fight the spread of Covid-19. “This generous gift will save lives,” Garcetti said at the time. But the donation also serves the purpose of burnishing Qatar’s image while the lives lost building stadiums for the World Cup are consigned to the shadows.
Despite its name, the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles is technically an independent nonprofit organization with no formal links to Mayor Garcetti’s office. But Garcetti reportedly helped create the group back in 2014, and it is staffed by Garcetti associates with strong links to Los Angeles City Hall. The Mayor’s Fund received enormous “behested payments”—mostly unregulated donations—from corporate behemoths like AT&T, Verizon, and Paramount Pictures. Such payments provide “an ideal opportunity for the very wealthy and the lobbyist to buy access to lawmakers,” said Craig Holman, of the consumer-rights group Public Citizen. Michael Steinborn, a researcher and activist with the anti-Olympics group NOlympicsLA, told us, “We don’t know what LA’s end of that bargain is. If we take X amount of money from Qatar, what do they get in return?”
The relationship between Garcetti and Qatar was long in the making. In September 2016, the mayor went to the airport to personally greet Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, when he arrived in LA. Also on hand was Dana Smith, then the US ambassador to Qatar, who also sits on the LA28 Olympics board of directors. The Qatari emir has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 2002. Therefore, not only was his visit a sly sidestep around the restrictions on IOC members’ visits to Olympic bid cities, put in place after the jaw-dropping bribery scandal around the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, but it also affords a glimpse of how the self-fashioned barons of sport do whatever they want and get away with it.
In July 2021, citing his successful campaign to win the Olympics, President Biden nominated Garcetti to be the next ambassador to India and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared his nomination. Still, things haven’t been smooth sailing for the former mayor.
Garcetti’s nomination to be ambassador to India has been blocked by six Democrats who will not commit to voting for him to take up residency in India. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Some of the lawmakers want to learn more about allegations that one of Mr. Garcetti’s former top aides sexually harassed subordinates and made racist comments, according to people familiar with the lawmakers’ thinking.”
In February, wrote a local report, The nonprofit law firm Whistleblower Aid has filed a complaint on behalf of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s former communications director, Naomi Seligman, who has allege d that the mayor committed perjury during his testimony under oath to the Senate committee in charge with vetting him.
The former mayor’s right-hand man “was accused in a 2020 lawsuit filed by Los Angeles Police Department Officer Matthew Garza, who claims Garcetti witnessed the misconduct but turned a blind eye to it.”
In a statement, Seligman wrote, “Senators should be outraged that someone nominated to represent our country in a key diplomatic post would lie to their faces so brazenly. It’s time for them to take a serious look at the evidence that I and others have presented and live up to the commitment that many of them have made to protect victims of predatory behavior in the workplace.”
In May, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa “released the findings of a staff review examining whether Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, nominee to be ambassador to India, was aware of allegations of misconduct by a former senior advisor.”
The senator’s office said, “The review comprises interviews with 15 witnesses as well as examinations of 26 depositions and other documentary evidence including emails and text messages. Grassley’s investigative staff concluded that Garcetti likely knew, or should have known, that his former senior advisor was sexually harassing and making racist remarks toward multiple individuals. These findings contradict Garcetti’s testimony at a nominations hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”
The LA Times reported that the post means so much to Garcetti’s family that his parents have hired a lobbyist to push his nomination. The newspaper noted, “The lobbying firm where she works reported Thursday $30,000 in income during the second quarter tied to Garcetti’s parents. The firm lobbied the White House, Senate and House, according to the firm’s filing.”
His pals from Qatar don’t seem to be as interested this time around.
Garcetti has denied the accusations.
As of last week, 101 nominees have been confirmed, the Senate is considering 46 nominees, and 10 positions do not have nominees, according to the Partnership for Public Service.