Alva Mahaffey Johnson is a former staffer on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign who says he kissed her without her consent at an event in Florida, The Washington Post reported. The White House denies the allegations.
Johnson told The Washington Post that Trump grabbed her hand and leaned in to kiss her on the mouth as he exited an RV during a small gathering of supporters outside of a rally in Tampa, Florida, on August 24, 2016. Johnson told the outlet that she turned her head and Trump’s unwanted kiss got her on the side of the mouth. She said the kiss was “super-creepy and inappropriate.”
“I immediately felt violated because I wasn’t expecting it or wanting it,” she said. “I can still see his lips coming straight for my face.”
Johnson previously declined to be interviewed by The Post about the alleged misconduct. Johnson has filed a lawsuit against the Trump campaign seeking unspecified damages for emotional pain and suffering. The suit also alleges racial discrimination on the campaign. The White House also denied that allegation.
[Photo Credit: © Erica Aitken Photography
Here’s what you need to know about Alva Johnson:
1. Alva Johnson, Who Was Trump’s Director of Outreach & Coalitions for the GOP Primary, Says She Told Her Boyfriend & Family What Happened That Day
Alva Johnson told The Post that she told her boyfriend, mother, and stepfather about the incident on the same day it allegedly occurred. Her boyfriend, Miguel Rego, who was also working for the campaign, confirmed the conversation to The Post.
“I thought it was crazy that he had kissed her. I didn’t know how to process it,” he said.
She said she discussed the incident with a Florida lawyer two months later.
The attorney provided the Post with text messages that he said showed Johnson was “credible” but he said he did not take the case out of business reasons.
Johnson was referred by an attorney to a therapist, whose notes were reviewed by The Post and included a “reference an unspecified event during the campaign that had left her distraught.”
At the time of the alleged incident, Johnson was working as director of outreach and coalitions for the Trump campaign during the Alabama primary, according to her website. She described the job on the site:
As the Director of Outreach and Coalitions for the Alabama primary, Alva utilized her private sector background to coordinate one of the largest primary election rallies, attracting over 33,000 attendees. Her creativity and leadership earned her a reputation for success, and she was quickly promoted to the National Strike Team to travel to six critical states for outreach and support. During the general election, Alva served as Director of Operations for the Florida campaign, where she successfully managed the statewide RV/Mobile Office campaign. Her RVs visited 57 of 61 counties and came into contact with hundreds of thousands of voters. Over the course of the campaign, Alva strategically created opportunities for visibility, built alliances iwth diverse groups and supporters, and coordinated GOTV efforts that helped the campaign win in Florida. Alva has also worked on campaigns for the U.S. Senate and a county commissioner. Her areas of expertise include voter engagement, grassroots coordination, coalition and alliance building, communications, events, messaging and strategy, campaign technology (digital and data), database and file management, and polling research.
Johnson told The Post she considered coming forward after the October 2016 video in which Trump was heard bragging about grabbing and kissing women without their consent.
She said that moment was when she recognized what she says happened to her was part of a pattern.
“I’ve tried to let it go,” she told The Post. “You want to move on with your life. I don’t sleep. I wake up at 4 in the morning looking at the news. I feel guilty. The only thing I did was show up for work one day.”
According to The Post, Johnson is a registered Democrat who voted for Barack Obama twice but was interested in the Trump campaign because of her stepfather, who was an active Republican.
Her stepfather, Jacob Savage, said he blamed himself for what Johnson says happened.
“I felt it was a betrayal of trust,” Savage told The Post. “I felt I was responsible because, had I not introduced her to the campaign, she would not have been in that position.”
He added that Johnson told her mother as well.
“She was hysterical,” he said.
2. Johnson Says Trump Tried to Kiss Her & Left Her Feeling Humiliated
Johnson said she first met Trump at a November 2015 rally in Birmingham, Alabama. According to her lawsuit, which you can read above, Trump looked her up and down and said, “Oh, beautiful, beautiful, fantastic.”
Two months later she took a job as the campaign director of outreach and coalitions in Alabama.
Johnson was later assigned to Florida where she managed the RVs the campaign used as mobile offices.
One day in Tampa, she said, Trump walked into an RV as she recorded a video on her phone. She later brought a group of volunteers into the RV to take photos with Trump.
She says she spoke to Trump before he left the RV.
“I’ve been on the road for you since March, away from my family,” she told him, according to the lawsuit. “You’re doing an awesome job. Go in there and kick ass.”
She told The Post that Trump grabbed her hand, thanked her, and leaned in.
“Oh, my God, I think he’s going to kiss me,” she recalled to The Post. “He’s coming straight for my lips. So I turn my head, and he kisses me right on corner of my mouth, still holding my hand the entire time. Then he walks on out.”
She said she was left feeling humiliated as then-Attorney General Pam Bondi gave her a smile and Karen Giorno, the director of the Florida campaign, tugged Johnson’s elbow.
Both Bondi and Giorno denied witnessing anything inappropriate.
Johnson said she continued to work for the campaign after the alleged incident until the Access Hollywood tape was released.
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” Trump said in the 2005 video. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
“I felt sick to my stomach,” Johnson told The Post. “That was what he did to me.”
She said she stopped coming in to work and quit three weeks before the election.
“She is having nightmares because of what happened,” her therapist wrote on October 27 in notes reviewed by The Post.
Johnson told The Post she tried to move on and attended one of Trump’s inaugural balls and applied twice for jobs in his administration. She said she was passed over but claimed that it had no bearing on her decision to come forward.
3. The White House Called the Lawsuit ‘Absurd on Its Face’
The White House denied Johnson’s allegations. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told The Post that the claim is “absurd on its face.”
“This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts,” Sanders said.
Bondi denied the allegation as well.
“Do I recall seeing anything inappropriate? One hundred percent no,” she told The Post. “I’m a prosecutor, and if I saw something inappropriate, I would have said something.”
Giorno told The Post the allegation was “ridiculous” and “absolutely did not happen.”
The Post noted that its reporters reached out to Johnson a year earlier about reports of misconduct allegations on the campaign but she declined to be interviewed.
4. Johnson, an Event Planner, Has Filed a Federal Lawsuit Against Trump That Also Alleges Racial Discrimination
[Photo Credit: © Erica Aitken Photography
Alva Mahaffey Johnson, who works as an event planner in Alabama, filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump campaign Monday in Florida. The suit seeks unspecified damages for emotional pain and suffering.
The suit also alleges that the campaign discriminated against Johnson, who is black, by paying her white male counterparts more.
The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow reported that Johnson alleged that campaign staffers made comments about race that made her uncomfortable.
Campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany denied the claims, calling them “off-base and unfounded.”
Farrow reported that Johnson’s is the fourth lawsuit filed by women alleging Trump made unwanted physical advancements. None have resulted in judgments against Trump but least one suit is being in settlement negotiations. At least nine other women have publicly alleged that Trump kissed them without consent but did not pursue legal action.
Johnson currently runs Amjohnson Consulting and Heaven on Earth LLC, an event planning company based in her native Alabama. According to her website, “Her unique background combines experience in human resources, large-scale event production, and politics.”
Johnson added, “Before entering politics, Alva built an impressive career in human resources. She was responsible for human resources for the Atlanta Braves, Celebrity Personal Assistants, Inc., CARE International, Cox Interactive Media, and Randstad Staffing Services. She has also served technical start-ups putting down roots in Alabama. Her strengths include talent acquisition, training and development, human resources information systems, employee relations, human resources management, policy development, and compliance.”
Johnson wrote on her website that she has experience coordinating large-scale events. She graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she played volleyball. Johnson was also a volleyball star at Ramsay High School. She lives in Alabama with her family.
According to her Linkedin profile, she has also lived in California and Georgia. She previously worked as a senior recruiter for Celebrity Personal Assistants and as an executive personal assistant to an author. Johnson has also worked in the publishing industry, she wrote on Linkedin. She graduated from UAB with a degree in mass communication and media studies.
5. Trump Has Been Accused of Misconduct by More Than a Dozen Women
At least 16 women have accused Trump of varying inappropriate behavior ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault. You can read more about some of those accusations here.
Trump has denied all of the women’s accusations.
The women have accused Trump of groping, unwanted kissing, and other misconduct.