1. Florida Politics

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

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 Jun. 14, 2019

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 Follow @TimesDan.


  1. MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE   |   Times [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times (2018)]
    Fifth Third Bank announced on Twitter that its financial contributions would end “until more inclusive policies have been adopted.”
  2. President Donald Trump with, from left, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Rick Scott, visit Lake Okeechobee and Herbert Hoover Dike at Canal Point last year.
    One senator embraces the topic. The other avoids it.
  3. Rep. Bobby DuBose says he hopes 2020 will be the year the Florida Legislature limits the use of restraint and seclusion on students with special needs who grow violent. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘I pray to God this year will be the year,’ sponsor Rep. Bobby DuBose says.
  4. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. [[SAMANTHA J. GROSS | Times/Herald]]
    A bill that would move the state’s Office of Energy from under Fried’s control to DeSantis is a priority of the governor, who is behind a series of efforts to consolidate power under his office.
  5. In this Oct. 22, 2018 file photo, people gather around the Ben & Jerry's "Yes on 4" truck as they learn about Amendment 4 and eat free ice cream at Charles Hadley Park in Miami. A federal judge has temporarily set aside a Florida law that barred some felons from voting because of their inability to pay fines and other legal debts. The ruling handed down Friday, Oct. 18, 2019 by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle means thousands of felons who were denied the right to vote will be able to cast ballots unless the state gets a higher court to intervene or if Hinkle later upholds the constitutionality of the state law. [WILFREDO LEE  |  Associated Press]
    “Isn’t it punitive to say, ‘I will reinfranchise this group, but not reinfranchise this group?’” one judge asked.
  6. Then Florida Governor Rick Scott, left, talks with President Donald Trump after Trump's arrival on Air Force One at Signature Flight Support before speaking at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Convention in October of 2018. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times (2018)]
    A spokesman for Scott said the Florida Republican ‘meets a lot of people and has no recollection of meeting Parnas’
  7. State Senate Education Appropriations chairwoman Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, unveils her chamber's 2020-21 education budget proposal during a brief committee meeting on Jan. 28, 2020. [The Florida Channel]
    Sen. Kelli Stargel suggests the state should meet Gov. Ron DeSantis’ minimum salary goal ‘over the next several years.’
  8. Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system.
    “We’re way past the time of not addressing this issue,” said the bill sponsor, Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota.
  9. Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes holds up the Lamar Hunt Trophy after his team won the the AFC Championship game 35-24 over the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 19 to advance to Super Bowl 54. [CHARLIE NEIBERGALL  |  AP]
    The Florida House and Senate have started “informal discussions” about making it legal in Florida. But Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t want a “broad expansion of gaming in Florida."
  10. Victoria Arriaga, left, does a letter-matching activity during Priscilla Perez's pre-kindergarten class at West Tampa Elementary School. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
    The 148-page bill would lead to a new ‘grading’ system for prekindergarten providers, so parents can better choose programs for their toddlers.