Former Trump Campaign Staffer Jessica Denson Files for Summary Judgment In Lawsuit Challenging Campaign’s Illegal Non-Disclosure Agreements

On July 30, 2020, Protect Democracy, Bowles & Johnson PLLC, and Ballard Spahr LLP filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of Jessica Denson and other 2016 Trump campaign workers who have been silenced by the Trump campaign’s use of ambiguous and overly broad nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses (the “NDAs”) in a form contract they required all 2016 campaign workers to sign.

The motion seeks a declaratory judgment that the Campaign’s contract is void and unenforceable and an injunction prohibiting its enforcement. The motion for summary judgment can be found here.

Denson filed her lawsuit on June 1, 2020, in New York Supreme Court, after the New York State courts lifted a moratorium on the filing of new actions prompted by the COVID pandemic. The Campaign removed the case to federal court.

“I have spent the past three years defending my rights of conscience, let alone my Constitutional and statutory rights, in the face of the Trump campaign’s cruel and relentless attempts to claim ownership of my voice and my livelihood” says Denson. “I have fought, as have a few others, but many more never will. The threat of their lives being materially altered by this Campaign is too great to even dare to speak out, although their voices are vital and relevant, and never more so than right now.”

During a July 9th conference, the federal district court entered an expedited briefing schedule for summary judgment. “The Campaign tried to enforce the NDA against Ms. Denson and used every procedural tool at its disposal to delay having a court rule on the NDA’s validity” said Counsel for Protect Democracy, John Langford following the conference. “We’re very pleased that the Court recognized that this case presents a straightforward legal issue and ordered the parties to cut to the chase.”

First amendment experts have also weighed in on our case, underscoring the constitutional infirmity of the Campaign’s NDAs and the need for courts to strike down these sorts of unlawful gags on core political speech.

Alan Garfield, Distinguished Professor of Law, Widener University Delaware Law School says, “people with wealth and power have for far too long abused nondisclosure agreements to suppress information of vital public importance, including information about dangerously defective products, violent sexual predators, and, in the case of Trump’s wildly excessive NDAs, about a candidate for the nation’s highest office. It is time for courts to end this abuse.”

“The 2016 Trump campaign demanded that employees and volunteers sign shockingly broad non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements. The non-disparagement clause, for example, purports to bind such persons for life to speak no ill of President Trump, his family members, or his businesses on pain of significant financial penalty. Such restrictions strike at the very heart of free speech and democratic government” adds Heidi Kitrosser, Robins Kaplan Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School.

For more information regarding this case and the motion for summary judgement visit the Trump Campaign’s Illegal Non-Disclosure Agreements case page.