Commentary


Judge Allows Anti-Trump Campaign Spy To Breach Non-Disclosure, Non-Disparagement Contract
by Adam de Angeli      Posted March 31, 2021

 
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The story in The Hill is worth dissecting line by line:

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that employees on former President Trump's 2016 campaign had to sign is unenforceable.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gardephe, a George W. Bush appointee, found that the language of the far-reaching contract was so vague that it was invalid under New York contract law, Politico reports.

"The vagueness and breadth of the provision is such that a Campaign employee would have no way of what may be disclosed, and, accordingly, Campaign employees are not free to speak about anything concerning the Campaign," Gardephe wrote in his decision. "The non-disclosure provision is thus much broader than what the Campaign asserts is necessary to protect its legitimate interests, and, therefore, is not reasonable."
Right off the bat, the decision is patently absurd.

It's obvious what the contract meant. It was meant to be all-encompassing: "You may not disclose anything about the campaign at all, period." That's not vague, and there is no prohibition against contracts of such breadth. They are written that way intentionally: to be catch-alls.

Gardephe also found fault in the non-disparagement clause of the agreement, Politico reports, writing that the contract showed the Trump campaign did not operate "in good faith."

"The evidence before the Court instead demonstrates that the Campaign has repeatedly sought to enforce the non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions to suppress speech that it finds detrimental to its interests," Gardephe added.
The whole point of non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions is to suppress speech a party finds detrimental to its interests.

It would be bad enough for a court to nullify a contract on the sole basis that a party intended to enforce the opposing party's breach, but George W. Bush appointee Paul Gardephe goes even further by labeling the Trump campaign's legitimate efforts to enforce the contract "not in good faith." I.e. "in bad faith." That is a serious, heinous allegation made by the judge, with no support.

The outlet notes that the Trump campaign had asked Gardephe to edit the provisions in the contract if he found them unenforceable, but the judge declined to do so.
Demonstrating the real bad faith was the judge's. Trump's campaign said "OK, you edit the contract to say what is right" and the judge responded by declaring the entire contract (and therefore all other contracts with Trump campaign employees) illegal.

It was an intentional move to legalize all breaches of contract for any Trump campaign staff to badmouth the campaign.

The Hill has reached out to Trump's office for comment on the ruling.

The ruling by Gardephe was issued in a case brought by Jessica Denson, a Hispanic outreach director on Trump's 2016 campaign. Denson is accusing the campaign of sex discrimination, Politico reports.

"I'm overjoyed," Denson told Politico, regarding Gardephe's ruling. "This president ... former president spent all four years aspiring to autocracy while claiming that he was champion of freedom and free speech. ... There's many people out there who have seen cases like mine and were terrified to speak out."
This is not the statement of a wronged employee.

This is the statement of a committed Trump-hater.

Jessica Denson was a Hispanic outreach director for Trump's 2016 campaign, and her bombshell allegation was that the 2016 campaign engaged in "sex discrimination"?

This is a transparent smear attempt that is exactly the kind of thing campaigns try to prevent through non-disclosure agreements, because insiders badmouthing a campaign--especially Trump's campaign--have a huge financial incentive to do so.

The article closes with a whimper:

However, a representative for Trump disagreed with the ruling.

"We believe the court reached the wrong decision and President Trump's lawyers are examining all potential appeals," an unnamed aide to Trump told Politico.
This is certainly a bad result for the Trump campaign, but more importantly, this is a bad result for contract law and non-disclosure agreements.

A court threw out an entire contract, ostensibly because it was "too broad" but obviously because it was a contract with the Trump campaign. The pretext will become precedent.

This is an example of the damage to the legal system being done by the anti-Trump malice of judges.





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