Journalist Yashar Ali accuses Garcetti advisor Rick Jacobs of sexual misconduct

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A second person has come forward to accuse a top advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti of sexual misconduct.

Freelance journalist Yashar Ali alleged in a first-person article published Monday night that Garcetti advisor Rick Jacobs forcibly kissed him on the lips and hugged him over a decade.

A longtime player in politics and a former deputy chief of staff to the mayor, Jacobs is known for hosting fundraisers and other events at his home. Ali wrote that between 2005 and 2015 he attended at least a half dozen dinners at Jacobs’ house, where the alleged misconduct happened.

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“Jacobs would grab my face and kiss me on the lips — always twice — and he would turn to other people who witnessed it and say, ‘He has the softest lips,’” Ali wrote. He also said that he had “seen Jacobs at fundraisers over the years subjecting others to forcible kissing, grabbing and sexually explicit comments.”

Ali wrote that before becoming a journalist, he worked in Democratic politics. “I considered [Jacobs] a friend, and we had many acquaintances in common,” Ali wrote. Ali served as Gavin Newsom’s deputy chief of staff when Newsom was mayor of San Francisco.

Jacobs didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A Garcetti spokesman also didn’t respond.

Ali’s allegations, published on the forum Substack, follow a lawsuit filed against the city in July by Los Angeles Police Officer Matthew Garza, who worked on the mayor’s security detail.

Garza alleged that Jacobs made crude sexual comments and touched him inappropriately over several years.

Jacobs massaged Garza’s shoulders and hugged him, according to Garza’s suit. The harassment took place on trips Garcetti took to Arizona, New Hampshire and elsewhere, the suit alleges.

The lawsuit also alleges that “Garcetti was present on approximately half of the occasions when Jacobs behaved in this way, and witnessed Jacobs’ conduct, but he took no action to correct Jacobs’ obviously harassing behavior.”

“On some occasions, the mayor would laugh at Jacobs’ crude comments,” the lawsuit said.

Jacobs has called Garza’s lawsuit a “work of pure fiction.” Garcetti has denied witnessing the behavior alleged by Garza.

Greg Smith, Garza’s attorney, said in a statement Monday night that ”every person should feel free from fear and intimidation when reporting sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. ” Smith said he believes more people will come forward.

Jacobs, along with the mayor’s wife, Amy Wakeland, are widely seen as Garcetti’s closest advisors.

Jacobs helped raise money for a committee that supported Garcetti’s 2013 mayoral run and the mayor rewarded him with a top post at City Hall.

Today, Jacobs serves on the board of directors of the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, a nonprofit that raises money for Garcetti-backed causes. He also runs a separate Garcetti-supported nonprofit focused on economic development.

The head of a Los Angeles County business organization accused Jacobs last year of threatening its members if they opposed a tax measure supported by the mayor. Jacobs denied making the threat.

Garcetti has publicly stood by Jacobs since Garza’s lawsuit was filed. The mayor in August called Jacobs “a committed public servant” and said he should be able to continue to work for the Mayor’s Fund and the other nonprofit while the case is being litigated.

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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