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The Trump administration reportedly requires outgoing staff members to sign NDAs (NYT).1,2 Also reported, these agreements provide the staff member a $15,000 per month payment (NYT) for their silence. Lastly, the agreements are variously made with Trump for President, the RNC, or some other PAC-name I can't remember.3

Consider for this question such an NDA signed with Trump for President. I heard a talking head today (recall is failing me!) off-handedly mention that it would certainly be a campaign finance violation. Would it be illegal--specifically as a matter of campaign finance--for a campaign to pay for an outgoing staff member's silence?


1 - whether or not such an agreement would be upheld is not my interest here. Cf. ...experts say she might prevail in court (WaPo)

2 - I've seen them variously described as nondisclosure, nondisparagement, or confidentiality agreements. I don't know how much of a legal difference that matters exists among those, but I also don't think that's really at issue for this question.

3 - I got this bit from reading a copy of what appeared to be one with Trump for President, and a TV report that mentioned two other entities. But I can't find those references up right now =\

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Someone serving in the Trump administration is a federal employee, any classified material they have access to is already covered by relevant laws. A NDA that covers general non-classified information they learned during their work would violate the first amendment because the US government would be a beneficiary of the NDA even though it appears that the NDA is between Trump and a (former) employee at the white house.

There is precedent for this in McGEHEE v. CASEY and US v. MARCHETTI

edit: As for the source of the money, if the job is from the Trump campaign I don't think it violates campaign fiance laws. Any other source would go over the contribution limits though.

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    So the NDA may not be worth the paper it's written on, in terms of enforceability. But how does that answer the legality question about its funding source? – Fizz Aug 15 '18 at 4:08
  • NDA in question is specific to Trump Campaign. Any document signed by Trump's Administration employees is Nondisparagement Agreement; they were included in contract on the insistence of Trump, but he was informed immediately that they are unforceable. I think this is the problem with news feeds, as they do not make clear enough distinction between the two. – user10424 Aug 15 '18 at 14:06
  • Most people who have accepted payoffs or have mentioned the conditions seem to indicate it's part of the "Trump 2020" campaign, from what I've read. – PoloHoleSet Aug 16 '18 at 20:32
  • This doesn't really answer the question. It doesn't really address campaign finance at all, which is what is being asked. – Bobson Aug 21 '18 at 22:46

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