After 25 years of marriage, Washington power couple Maxine Isaacs and Jim Johnson separate
Jim Johnson and Maxine Isaacs -- one of Washington's top power couples -- have separated after 25 years of marriage.
Just ten days ago, the two hosted their annual Kennedy Center Honors brunch and attended the star-studded awards show together. But a split was quietly in the works: She moved into a Georgetown townhouse last week; he's staying in their $5 million penthouse at the Ritz-Carlton. Johnson and Isaacs declined to comment.
They have been fixtures on Washington's A-list, with ties to the political, business and cultural life of the city. For seven years in the '90s, Johnson was chairman of Fannie Mae -- and at one point, also served as chair of both the Kennedy Center and the Brookings Institution, causing Harold Ickes to nickname him "chairman of the universe." Isaacs, with advanced degrees in international policy, is a lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and serves on several arts and policy boards.
Their names are all over town -- literally, carved into walls -- thanks to a long list of philanthropic donations. Most notably, they created and underwrote the Kennedy Center's free Millennium Stage and gave $1 million to Arlington's Signature Theatre, which named the Max Theatre after her.
The couple met while working on Walter Mondale's 1984 presidential campaign: Johnson was the campaign's manager; Isaacs served as press secretary. They were married in January, 1985, with a toast from Mondale at the reception: "Some people really don't understand what the campaign was all about," he told the guests. "It was really a front operation for Maxine and Jim to get to know each other under extreme conditions of stress."
Johnson made his fortune at the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), where he worked from 1991 to 1998. By the time he left, he was making $7 million a year and donating millions as head of the Fannie Mae Foundation. According to property records, they own two multi-million properties near Palm Springs, Calif., and a spread in Montana, in addition to the Georgetown Ritz condo -- and recently sold a home in Woodley Park for $4.2 million.
The couple remained deeply involved in Democratic politics, donating several thousands to candidates and campaigns. In 2008, Johnson led Barack Obama's search for a vice-president until the worsening financial crisis -- and questions about whether his stewardship at Fannie Mae contributed to the sub prime mortgage scandal -- caused him to step aside. He now works as vice chairman of the private investment firm Perseus LLC.
No divorce papers have been filed. The couple has one adult son.
The Reliable Source
| December 14, 2010; 10:00 PM ET
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