NDA She Signed Before Working for Trump Ruled Invalid

Jessica Denson sued, and judge ruled Trump campaign NDA's limitless nature was a problem
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2021 8:41 AM CDT
Judge Voids NDA Trump Campaign Employee Signed
In this Feb. 28, 2021, photo, former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Fla.   (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Like her fellow Trump campaign employees, Jessica Denson signed a non-disclosure agreement before her stint with the campaign from August to November 2016. On Tuesday, that NDA was deemed invalid, in a case Denson had brought against the campaign. Politico reports that US District Court Judge Paul Gardephe's 36-page ruling sidestepped the "constitutional issues presented by such agreements in the context of political campaigns." His issue was with the NDA's language, which he described as so vague as to be "as a practical matter—unlimited." Under the NDA and its non-disparagement provision, Denson couldn't speak ill of the president, any Trump family member, or their businesses—then or in the distant future: Courthouse News Service reports the NDA lacked a time limit.

The issue took several years to reach Gardephe's courtroom: Denson in November 2017 sued the Trump campaign for sex discrimination, harassment, and slander. It in turn filed an arbitration claim that alleged that filing the suit was a breach of her NDA's non-disparagement clause. "Campaign employees are not free to speak about anything concerning the Campaign," wrote Gardephe of the NDA, which the Hollywood Reporter notes covered more than 500 businesses Trump is connected to, as well as others that may be linked to "unnamed spouses, children, and grandchildren." That makes the NDA unreasonable, says Gardephe, who wrote that it is "impossible for Denson to know what speech she has agreed to forego, and there is no possibility of mutual assent." Though the ruling only applies to Denson's case, her attorneys said they believe the ruling invalidates all of the campaign's NDAs. (More President Trump stories.)

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