Trump campaign worker’s ‘kiss’ lawsuit against president dismissed by Tampa judge

U.S. District Judge William Jung called former campaign worker Alva Johnson's complaint a “political lawsuit.”
President Donald Trump appears at an Aug. 24, 2016 campaign rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. That visit is cited in a lawsuit filed against the president by a former campaign worker. A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
President Donald Trump appears at an Aug. 24, 2016 campaign rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. That visit is cited in a lawsuit filed against the president by a former campaign worker. A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published June 14
Updated June 14

TAMPA — A federal judge has dismissed a former campaign staffer’s lawsuit against President Donald Trump which claimed he tried to kiss her during a Florida State Fairgrounds rally in 2016, and that she was paid less than her white male colleagues.

In an order issued Friday afternoon, U.S. District Judge William Jung called Alva Johnson's complaint a “political lawsuit.”

“(Johnson) will receive a fair day in court, but the court will try a tort and wages dispute — not a political one,” Jung wrote. “If plaintiff wishes to make a political statement or bring a claim for political purposes, this is not the forum.”

The judge dismissed Johnson's complaint without prejudice, which means she can choose to re-file the lawsuit within 30 days.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Trump lawyers say allegations of past sexual misconduct should be tossed from federal lawsuit about Tampa kiss

The lawsuit focused on an incident that Johnson, 44, says took place on Aug. 24, 2016 at the fairgrounds. Johnson was in a Trump campaign recreational vehicle moments before his appearance at a rally she helped organize. She says the then-candidate grasped her hand, thanked her for her work, and leaned in to kiss her on the lips, according to the complaint. Johnson said she turned her head and Trump kissed her on the corner of her mouth.

Court documents detail other allegations of the president groping and kissing women without their consent, including the 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording where Trump can be heard describing these actions. Johnson brought them up in an effort to prove that Trump has demonstrated a pattern of inappropriate behavior with women.

But the judge found the examples she cited to be irrelevant to her lawsuit. He also noted that many of the examples she cited were taken from media reports.

READ MORE: Trump campaign worker says he kissed her without consent before Tampa rally

Johnson, who is black, also alleged that she was paid less than her white male colleagues while working on the campaign, but the judge found evidence of that lacking.

If Johnson chooses to re-file the lawsuit, the judge said she should limit her new complaint to just incidents involving her, and should not include quotes from any media reports.

Contact Dan Sullivan at dsullivan@tampabay.com. Follow @TimesDan.

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