By AAMER MADHANI, Associated Press
President Joe Biden has named Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Ambassador to India, the White House announced on Friday, selecting a high profile ally for one of the toughest diplomatic posts.
Garcetti would be posted to India if confirmed as it was overwhelmed by a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths.
The White House also announced on Friday that Biden has nominated the Democratic fundraiser Denise Bauer as ambassador to Monaco, career field officer Peter Haas as ambassador to Bangladesh, and former Obama-era national security advisor Bernadette Meehan as ambassador to Chile.
Garcetti, who was considering an offer for the White House in 2020 and later joined Biden’s inner circle, turned out to be a much-discussed opportunity to join Biden’s cabinet last year. But he took himself out of the running, saying the raging coronavirus crisis had made it impossible for him to step down.
The two-term mayor would leave LA with an uneven record. He has been credited with continuing to build transit in a traffic choked city, setting stricter earthquake safety standards for thousands of buildings, and guiding the city through the deadly pandemic as it became a hotspot for infection. Cases have fallen sharply in the city and some restrictions have been lifted in line with developments in the state.
But Garcetti was hit by a homelessness crisis that became a national embarrassment despite the massive spike in government spending to combat it. Many streets and sidewalks are still cratered and crumbling, despite his early promise to make them a cornerstone of his administration.
One lawsuit alleges that a former top executive sexually molested one of the mayor’s police bodyguards, while Garcetti either ignored or laughed at it. The mayor denies the claims. One of his former deputy mayors was also charged with corruption allegations in an ongoing federal investigation at the town hall. And as in many big cities, LA crime rates are skyrocketing.
In choosing Garcetti, Biden rewards a loyalist who was one of his national campaign chairs, served on the committee that reviewed his pool of vice-presidential candidates, and served as one of several co-chairs for Biden’s founding committee.
Associate press writer Michael R. Blood in Los Angeles contributed to the coverage.
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