WASHINGTON — Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former reality TV star turned Trump loyalist turned Trump critic, filed court papers on Monday seeking to join a lawsuit that accuses the Trump campaign of paying women less than men.
Newman served on Trump's 2016 campaign as director of African American outreach. She's seeking to join a lawsuit filed by a former Trump campaign staffer, Alva Johnson, who not only accused Trump of trying to forcibly kiss her on the campaign trail in August 2016, but also lodged two counts claiming gender pay discrimination.
"I believe that Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. paid me and other similarly situated female employees less than male employees who performed the same or similar job duties under similar working conditions," Newman wrote in a declaration filed in federal district court in Tampa, Florida.
Newman said she believed, for instance, that she was paid less than Trump campaign adviser Bryan Lanza, who served as deputy communication director during the campaign and served in the transition before joining public relations firm Mercury.
Johnson is asking a judge to turn her case into a collective action that covers other women who worked for the campaign and were allegedly paid less than male campaign staffers performing similar jobs and responsibilities.
In support of Johnson's request to have the case certified as a collective action, her lawyers presented a declaration from an economist who reviewed Trump campaign payroll data and found that on average women staffers were paid less — the pay difference was even wider when the economist took into account salaries for senior staff and advisers.
In a statement, Newman said that she had "strongly suspected" pay discrimination, and added that she thought the campaign discriminated against minorities as well; the lawsuit doesn't include allegations of race discrimination.
"After nearly 20 years inside the beltway, working for two white houses and countless political campaigns, I’ve never witnessed such egregious violations as I did during my time under the leadership of Donald Trump and [Vice President] Mike Pence. I am joining this effort for women and minorities to help level the playing field in the political arena between men and women," Newman said.
Johnson's lawyer Hassan Zavareei said in a statement that they were "pleased" to have Newman's support, and were preparing to invite other women to join the case if the judge agreed to certify it as a collective action.
As Johnson seeks to expand the scope of her case, Trump and the campaign have been trying to narrow it. Last week, Trump's lawyers — he's being represented by Charles Harder, one of the president's go-to outside lawyers — filed a motion asking the judge to strike parts of Johnson's complaint that referenced allegations that Trump had sexually harassed or assaulted other women.
Newman first entered Trump's orbit in 2004 when she appeared on the first season of The Apprentice. She joined the campaign in 2015, according to court papers, and after Trump was elected she joined his administration. Her title was director of communication for the White House Public Liaison Office, although her day-to-day duties weren't always clear.
The White House announced in December 2017 that Newman had resigned, although sources told BuzzFeed News at the time that she was fired.
Newman then became a vocal critic of the president, even claiming in a book last year that Trump was a racist who had repeatedly used the n-word when he was the host of The Apprentice. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Newman a "disgruntled" former employee "trying to profit off these false attacks."