Ex-wife: N.C. GOP vice chair fabricated my endorsement

Facing controversy over a domestic violence conviction involving his ex-wife during his successful 2009 bid for vice chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, then-Buncombe GOP Chair Tim Johnson produced a statement, supposedly from her, supporting his candidacy. Now, she says she never wrote that endorsement or had any knowledge of it until after his election.

“I absolutely did not say that,” Ofelia Felix-Johnson, now living in Nebraska, tells Xpress. “This was not done with my consent, and I didn’t even know about it. I didn’t appreciate him putting my name out there when I had nothing to do with it.”

Felix-Johnson says a family friend from Tuscon was trying to find contact info for her, and Googled her name; that person then alerted her family members that Johnson was making that claim about the letter from her. This was after Johnson had won his campaign.

The statement was released by Johnson in June 2009 after news that he pled guilty in 1996 to aggravated assault in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, broke in the midst of his campaign for state vice chair. He was given an 18-months suspended sentence, and ordered to move to Toledo and undergo domestic-violence counseling.

Purportedly from Felix-Johnson, the endorsement declared:

I have been made aware that my ex-husband is a candidate for the job of Vice Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party which I whole heartedly support and were I a resident of that state I would vote for him. It has also come to my attention that people in the Republican party are trying to use potential issues from our marriage in an attempt to smear Tim’s reputation and chances to win the race.  When we took our marriage vows, we like so many including President Reagan, former speaker Newt Gingrich or even John McCain hoped that the union would last.  Differences sometimes occur and words and actions may happen which require a separation; however, the love and regard for the people involved doesn’t change.  My ex-husband has met his obligations to me and our children, our relationship is cordial and I support whatever positive endeavors Latessa and Tim may choose to engage in.

Ofelia Felix-Johnson
Omaha, Nebraska

“He wrote it — or someone else did — saying it was me speaking, but it wasn’t me,” Felix-Johnson asserts. She adds that she’s contacted state GOP Chair Tom Fetzer over the issue, but hasn’t received any response. Johnson won the vice chair race handily, subsequently resigned his role as county party chair and moved to Durham. He also chairs the Frederick Douglass Foundation, a conservative African-American policy group.

Johnson, contacted by Xpress, declined to make a statement when asked about the authorship of Felix-Johnson’s supposed endorsement.

“I’ll have to talk to her, I have no idea about this statement,” he tells Xpress.

Asked again if Felix-Johnson wrote the endorsement, Johnson said “the statement in and of itself, I’m not going to answer that. I’m confused as to why this coming up again right now. There’s a primary race taking place, and I don’t know why anyone’s concerned about a statement from my ex-wife.” He expressed doubt that Felix-Johnson had spoken with Xpress.

Asked if he could produce an e-mail or similar document confirming that Felix-Johnson had written the endorsement, he refused.

“I’m not showing that,” he replied. “I’m not going through that. I’m the vice chair, and I don’t have to explain anything that has to do with my relationship with my ex-wife. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Advised that this was concerning the truth of a public statement supposedly made by her, Johnson said “OK, then that’s what she’s saying. I’ve had reporters communicate with her and that’s as much as I’m going to involve my ex-wife at this point.”

— David Forbes, senior reporter, with reporting by Jon Elliston, former managing editor


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49 thoughts on “Ex-wife: N.C. GOP vice chair fabricated my endorsement

  1. Timothy F. Johnson

    For the record, I just spoke with my ex-wife and she tells me that she did not make this statement. AS a matter of fact, all she was received was a message for Mountain Express.

    Therefore, I am requesting Mountain Express retract this article immediate and offer Ofelia, Latessa and I an immediate apology. Failure to follow up on this request and I will be required to seek legal counseling on this matter.

    It is sad that in a country when we have more pressing problems facing each one of us, the Mountain Express would spend any time trying to smear me through the use of my ex-wife.

    Since Ofelia and I have grown chldren and grandchildren, I find their actions to be the lowest of the low.

  2. The Trolls Troll

    Not surprising that “Dr.” Johnson would fake a recommendation letter.

  3. I'd say pretty good

    So what are the odds Tim Johnson fakes a woman’s voice and calls Xpress tomorrow morning?

  4. contentpersephone

    just wondering, David Forbes, if you ever *did* check out “Dr” J’s creditials, way back then (yuck’s link above).

    seems the man has a history of fabrications….

    just curious.

  5. Piffy!

    so, if this is true, how come the xpress never took the time to find out months ago?

    The coverage of Tim Johnson from the xpress has been ridiculously, pitifully lacking.

    Seriously, you guys have treated him and his pile of lies with kid gloves and its pitiful.

  6. John

    I do not believe the statement attributed to Tim Johnson included in the blog is really Tim Johnson. I feel sure Tim would have signed his name Timothy F. Johnson PHD and thus it has no credibility.
    Keep fighting the good fight Dr. Johnson. We shall overcome.

  7. The GOP is particularly susceptible to grifters, shysters and con men these days because the former political party has morphed into a media fundraising complex that makes big money for many people. The base is more than happy to part with their money to continue the war against the evil others. All people like “Dr.” Johnson has to do is tell them what they want to hear.

    How could the con artists not be attracted to such a large pool of captive suckers? Sarah Palin is becoming a multi-millionaire off these rubes.

  8. In the July 09 article:
    “He was like a breath of fresh air,” Carolina Stompers founder Chad Nesbitt said of Johnson in a piece on the conservative activist group’s Web site hailing his election. “Johnson was motivated, inspirational and brought in young, talented people to make some big changes that needed to be made.”
    Chad, you are such a rare judge of character.

    And, David, thanks for a solid piece of follow-up, investigative work. You’ve earned your stripes with this one.

  9. Mr. Johnson has some “splainin” to do.

    “The question of Johnson’s 2000 doctorate has lingered, with a story in Durham’s Independent Weekly just after his election also casting doubt on the degree’s legitimacy. There is a fully accredited La Salle University in Pennsylvania, but the only doctorate it offers is in clinical psychology. Another LaSalle University, based in Louisiana, operated as a distance-learning facility for a number of years. The founder of the latter school was arrested in 1996 and went to prison for mail fraud and tax violations.

    According to Bear’s Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning, the latter school “operated as a degree mill until mid-1997, when it was sold to new and serious owners.” From then until January 1999, it was “run legally by new owners, though some students may still be doing the less demanding work of the old LaSalle.” And after that, LaSalle operated “according to DETC [Distance Education and Training Council] standards,” the guide reports. In October 2000, having failed to gain accreditation, LaSalle was folded into Orion College, which itself closed down in 2002.”

  10. J

    It’s always terrific to see petty vindictiveness arising from our City Council members. Way to go Cecil, you make us all proud.

  11. Diana

    Does anyone else think it’s weird that a woman in Nebraska would contact a weekly paper in Asheville about this story, especially considering both Johnson and the NCGOP are located in Raleigh?

  12. Shad, yeah. Duh.

    And there’s only one paper in Asheville that has any substantial record of investigative reporting. Who else would she have contacted?

  13. Unaffiliated Voter

    Cecil, have you decided not to pursue Asheville
    sanctuary for ILLEGALs as of now? Im glad not to have heard much about it in a few weeks now…
    Im sure you have received much information against this idea.

  14. contentpersephone

    “it’s always terrific to see petty vindictiveness arising from our City Council members. Way to go Cecil, you make us all proud.” – J

    yeah, J….it’s really “petty” to doubt someone’s bogus “credentials” that they seem completely unable/unwilling to verify.

    how partisan!

    I mean, what if the whole country ran that way? people would be having to actually *prove* that they might know what the heck they’re babbling about?

    heaven forbid!

  15. Dionysis

    Ha ha. What a load of bilge. Tim Johnson has a record of fabrication (see the ‘Ph.D. issue). Who’s going to buy his lame denial?

  16. Unaffiliated, the question is off-topic, but I have received a lot more information in recent weeks, in talks with law enforcement, community groups including churches, lawyers, and other elected officials and am more convinced than ever that the civil liberties resolution I have proposed will make Asheville a safer and more prosperous community. You’ve heard less about it because the right-wingers who made such a fuss about it for several days either got bored or actually read the resolution and realized that they were railing against the U.S. Constitution, the Department of Homeland Security and the local police. Maybe they rethought their opposition?

  17. “It’s always terrific to see petty vindictiveness arising from our City Council members. Way to go Cecil, you make us all proud. “ J

    It’s always “not so terrific” to see a snarky remark by an anonymous poster. Kinda like a roach that scurries into the dark, after the lights are turned on. What are you hiding from J?

  18. J


    You’re the one that brought partisanship into this. If you don’t think that going out of your way to find a quotation from a person who is not even mentioned in the story so that you can take a cheap shot is not petty, then you go right on ahead and keep believing that. More power to you.

    I’m not complaining at all about the MountainX coverage. If they’ve further exposed Tim Johnson, they’ve done a great job.



  19. Jeff Fobes

    I agree with Cecil that unaffiliated voter’s comment was off topic and probably should not have appeared in the thread. Xpress will try to moderate this thread with more care.

  20. Chad Nesbitt

    Bothwell commented and said –

    <> “Johnson was motivated, inspirational and brought in young, talented people to make some big changes that needed to be made.”
    Chad, you are such a rare judge of character.<>

    Johnson did all the above.
    I stand by what I said.

    By the way Bothwell. You didn’t do a Susan Fisher and go to Hawaii on the tax payers dime did you? Don’t you tell me you were down there picking lettuce. I know better. LOL!

  21. Nope, Chad. Free ticket courtesy of my best buddy from high school days. Had too many frequent flier miles about to expire.

    But I did take time out of my vacation to discuss crops – attended a U.S.Navy conference on biofuels. They aim to fuel 70 percent of their energy needs with renewables by 2030. Unlike the GOP they understand our energy predicament and the pending climate crisis and are acting to do something about it. They’ve even come up with a way to make jet fuel from switchgrass and other non-food crops. Hawaii has made the same 70 by 30 commitment, by the way.

  22. Chad Nesbitt


    You should be thanking the GOP. We are the only ones that support the US Navy not to mention the entire military. You Dems keep cutting their funding. No wonder they are trying to run vehicles on water.

  23. Chairman Nesbitt it is exactly that kind of minimal thinking that makes the rest of us realize the GOP has no real intent or clue about balancing the federal budget or shrinking the size of government. It’s all just blather for the “Base”.

  24. The Trolls Troll

    Cecil writes: “And there’s only one paper in Asheville that has any substantial record of investigative reporting. Who else would she have contacted?”

    I fail to see how this is an example of “investigative reporting.” It seems the only investigating that happened was Forbes figuring out which telephone to pick up when Ms. Felix-Johnson called Mountain Xpress. He might also have investigated whitepages.com to find a phone number for Tim Johnson in Durham.

    Felix-Johnson could have easily called the AC-T or WLOS, who I believe broke the domestic abuse conviction story in the first place. Is this such a prime example of reporting because it focuses on a GOP official? What if a Democrat had been the target? Just sayin…

  25. Piffy!

    [b]We are the only ones that support the US Navy not to mention the entire military. [/b]

    Really? I thought it was the taxpayers?

    Chad, keep up the good work, buddy! Comments like that are pure GOLD for those of us with an education.

  26. Dionysis

    The GOP “are the only ones that support the US Navy…(and) entire military”? Really? A trip down recent history shows what a whopper that comment really is; under Bush and the Republican Congress:

    “The Administration Repeatedly Cut Funding for Veterans’ Health Care Below Current Services…

    the President’s budgets for 2006 and 2005 cut five-year funding for veterans’ programs by $18.0 billion and $13.4 billion, respectively…

    four years in a row, the Administration has proposed financing veterans’ health care on the backs of veterans
    themselves by imposing higher health care fees. In addition…the Administration
    proposed significant health care fee increases on all military retirees – in some cases tripling
    them over two years. Though they are called “fees,” these are really nothing more than tax increases on veterans and military retirees…

    Over 2008 through 2011, the House Republican budget cuts veterans’ funding by $8.6 billion below the level that CBO estimates is needed to maintain current services…

    Every year, House Democrats proposed a budget
    that would have increased funding to ensure
    veterans’ services were maintained. The Spratt
    Alternative budget for 2007 provides $12.4 billion more over five years for veterans’ programs compared with the President’s budget, and $8.6 billion more over five years compared with the House Majority budget.


    And the Pentagon, understanding full well the national security implications of climate change and the risk of continued reliance on foreign oil, has led the way in developing alternative fuels, such as biodiesel.

    Life must be interesting in that alternative reality of the GOP. Just make up stuff as you go along, and voila!, it becomes so!

  27. bobaloo

    You should be thanking the GOP. We are the only ones that support the US Navy not to mention the entire military. You Dems keep cutting their funding.

    This is undeniable fact. He’s the only sporting an American flag as his avatar.

  28. JWTJr

    Hate to pile on Tim, but GHWBush also shrank the military by a tremendous amount. I could never figure out why he did that.

  29. “You should be thanking the GOP. We are the only ones that support the US Navy not to mention the entire military. You Dems keep cutting their funding. “

    Chad, It is patently ridiculous to make such a blanket statement…ALLof us have had military in our families. The GOP does not have a monopoly on supporting the armed forces, as has been pointed out very effectively, here. The LAST thing anyone wants is a less safe environment for our military.

  30. What the GOP did do, under Bush, was divert a whole ton of money away from the military to no-bid contracts with crooked corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater (both already found guilty in some criminal acts, with more coming), while failing to provide body armor for our troops, failing to adequately armor Humvees and exposing our troops to depleted uranium. (And I’m aware that much wrong continues, it being hard to (turn a tanker”) At the same time, by paying private contractors handsomely to do work formerly done by soldiers, the Bush administration helped demoralize our troops. If that’s what you mean by support, Chad, count me out.

  31. JWTJr

    Every gov’t entity that has been around a long time is massively bloated and wasteful. The Pentagon is no different. That’s one of the problems with big government. You get a lot more than you bargained for … and I don’t mean that in a good way.

  32. shadmarsh

    From the Alternet link:

    According to court records, Johnson was arrested on Christmas Day 1995 in Cleveland, Ohio, and was later indicted by a grand jury for two felony counts, one of felonious assault and the other of kidnapping. According to the arrest report, when the police arrived, they found Felix-Johnson bleeding from the face. Timothy Johnson told the officers, according to their report, “I admit it. I hit her, that’s the only way I can get her attention.” Felix-Johnson told the officers he restrained her on the couch, holding down her neck. One officer reports Ofelia Felix-Johnson saying that Johnson also punched her breasts, saying that she had no heart, and hit her over the back and buttocks with a plastic shoe rack, breaking the rack. The police report in the court file states that Johnson broke his wife’s nose and toes, causing her to be hospitalized.

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