Sen. Cruz Thanks Coast Guard for Quickly Ceasing Unlawful Use of NDAs to Silence Sexual Assault Victims

May 1, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. In his opening statement at today’s Senate Commerce Committee nominations session, Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thanked the Coast Guard for quickly addressing a serious problem his office uncovered regarding the Coast Guard’s use of illegal nondisclosure agreements (NDAs), including with victims of sexual assaults.  

Following an investigation, Sen. Cruz uncovered that the Coast Guard illegally prohibited sexual assault victims from disclosing information to anyone, including Congress, about the assaults or investigations through the use NDAs, which Sen. Cruz said was not only wrong, but also illegal. Sen. Cruz notes that within a day of his letter to USCG Admiral Linda Fagan, the Coast Guard ordered an end to this practice.

Sen. Cruz also voiced his strong opposition to Sam Slater, a nominee for the board overseeing Dulles International and Reagan National Airports. Other presidential nominations considered today covered the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), Surface Transportation Board (STB), Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), and Coast Guard Promotions.

Here are Sen. Cruz’s remarks as delivered:

“At today’s markup the Committee will consider a number of nominations.  I am disappointed, however, that the Chairwoman pulled down all of the legislation originally slated for the Committee’s consideration today. Of the 11 bills on the markup agenda, ten bipartisan bills would have moved unanimously by voice vote.

“I suspect my disappointment is shared by members on both sides of the dais today and I hope we’ll reconvene quickly and pass these ten bills by consent which every member was prepared to do today. 

“Thankfully, we are moving forward with promotions for over 400 Coast Guardsmen and women.

“Every day, Coast Guardsmen go into harms’ way to protect our nation’s maritime borders and enforce the law, from fighting the scourge of fentanyl to interdicting human traffickers and the illegal aliens sailing across our borders. These men and women deserve the Senate’s swift confirmation. 

“I also want to thank the Coast Guard for quickly addressing a serious problem my office uncovered: the Coast Guard’s use of illegal nondisclosure agreements, including with victims of sexual assault.  Within a day of my letter alerting the Commandant to the issue, the Coast Guard ended this indefensible practice. The Coast Guard has now notified every Coast Guardsman that NDAs may not silence victims of sexual assaults; nor do they prevent anyone else from blowing the whistle to Congress or the Inspector General.  

“We have several other nominations to consider today as well. Many of those are well-qualified nominees whom I support.  Unfortunately, President Biden’s nominee to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority or ‘MWAA’ is not one of them. Over the years Mr. Slater has channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic party.  In addition to bundling untold amounts of money for President Biden’s 2020 campaign, he donated $150,000 to then President-elect Biden’s Presidential Inaugural Committee.   

“I understand that many nominees have donated to whichever party is in the White House.  However, it is concerning to me that after President Biden nominated Mr. Slater, he donated another $300,000 to the Democratic National Committee.  This is political patronage, pure and simple.  It is?the ethics problems of Gigi?Sohn?all over again.

“And it is contrary to established bipartisan norms that have prevailed in the Senate for a long time. Senate nominees do not make contributions and they certainly do not make massive $300,000 contributions while their confirmation is pending.

“I would hope the committee in a bipartisan manner would agree that that is inappropriate, whether your party is Democrat or Republican. Sadly, I suspect that will not be how the votes come out. But I for one cannot support his nomination.”