Mar 21, 2023 - Politics

D.C.'s "shadow mayor" accused of sexual harassment

John Falcicchio alongside Muriel Bowser

John Falcicchio was alongside Mayor Bowser for years. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for The Wharf, Washington, D.C.

John Falcicchio, a longtime deputy of Mayor Bowser who abruptly resigned his post last Friday, is facing sexual harassment allegations.

Why it matters: Falcicchio was the mayor’s top confidant as she navigated a rare third term leading the nation’s capital, an indispensable aide sometimes likened to a shadow mayor who wielded power over economic development and devised political strategy.

Driving the news: A D.C. government employee “came forward to report serious allegations of sexual harassment” by Falcicchio, announced Debra Katz, a prominent attorney of the MeToo era.

  • “It is our understanding that this behavior is longstanding and our client is cooperating fully with the investigation, which Mayor Bowser initiated immediately,” said Katz in a statement. Her clients have included Commanders cheerleaders and Christine Blasey Ford.
  • The allegations were not detailed but involve “unwelcome advances and sexual contact,” Katz and attorney Kayla Morin said Monday afternoon in their statement.
  • Attempts since Friday to reach Falccchio have been unsuccessful.

The big picture: A New Jersey native, Falcicchio has also worked as a regional political director for the Democratic National Committee. But he got his start in the gritty arena of city politics under former Mayor Adrian Fenty, a mentor of Bowser's, and inside the political network known as the Green Team.

  • Falcicchio rose to fill two prominent roles: chief of staff to the mayor since 2015 and deputy mayor of planning and economic development for the last four years, pulling a salary of $230,000. In addition to running the mayor’s political strategy, he was tight with a close group of developers and had a hand in the city’s most consequential real estate transactions, from the waterfront to downtown.
  • A workaholic who fired off texts at late hours, his power derived from the mayor’s trust in him as her fixer.

What they're saying: Given Falcicchio's involvement in financial deals, Bowser said at a press conference Monday morning that the investigation does not involve “allegations of improprieties related to business transactions.” A Bowser spokesperson didn't respond to Axios' requests for comment about the harassment allegations.

What's next: Katz asked anyone affected to contact the mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel, which is leading the investigation.


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