A former Trump appointee has admitted to violating a federal regulation by producing a video that aired throughout the Republican Nationwide Conference final 12 months which boasted that situations on the New York Metropolis Housing Authority had improved underneath the previous president.
An investigation by the U.S. Workplace of Particular Counsel discovered that Lynne Patton, who served because the Housing and City Growth administrator for the New York and New Jersey area from 2017 to earlier this 12 months, violated the Hatch Act, which limits political actions of federal authorities staff. The workplace decided that she leveraged relationships she solid throughout a month spent dwelling in public housing as a part of her job to recruit tenants for the video.
“Through the use of data and NYCHA connections accessible to her solely by advantage of her HUD place, Patton improperly harnessed the authority of her federal place to help the Trump marketing campaign in violation of the Hatch Act,” the U.S. Workplace of Particular Counsel [OSC], which oversees enforcement of the Hatch Act, stated in an announcement.
Patton agreed to a settlement with OSC, underneath which she is barred from working for the federal authorities for 4 years and pays a civil superb of $1,000. As a part of that settlement, she additionally admitted to the violation.
In an announcement to Gothamist/WNYC, Patton stated she had obtained permission and authorized steerage from the HUD Workplace of the Common Counsel & Ethics for the video and “adopted their directions to a T.” She added that she discovered after leaving her put up that it was “incorrect and/or incomplete authorized recommendation,” however that she had no regrets.
“I’ll by no means remorse making a Republican Nationwide Conference video that highlighted the everlasting and continued enhancements being made to the New York Metropolis Public Housing Authority (NYCHA) due to the efforts of President [Donald] Trump, Secretary [Ben] Carson and myself,” she stated.
Noah Bookbinder, president of the group Residents for Duty and Ethics [CREW] in Washington, D.C., which filed the criticism in opposition to Patton with OSC, stated he was “gratified.”
“Even in an administration marked by a callous disregard for ethics legal guidelines, Lynne Patton stood out,” he stated in an announcement. “What made her habits notably egregious was that she not solely used her place for political functions, she misled and exploited public housing residents for political acquire, exhibiting little regard for the folks she was imagined to be serving to and the ethics guidelines she was imagined to be following.”
In a follow-up interview with Gothamist, Bookbinder added that this sort of disciplinary measure was sending an essential message, even with a brand new administration in energy.
“The concept of presidency staff and administration officers misusing authorities for politics—that is a recurring challenge and a recurring downside,” he stated. “If we wish to discourage these sorts of abuses going ahead, you need to have penalties when folks do it.”
Over a dozen Trump administration officers had been reprimanded by the Workplace of Particular Counsel whereas Trump was in workplace for violating the Hatch Act, in keeping with a tally by CREW. However no additional disciplinary motion was taken past the OSC reprimands throughout Trump’s time period, and Patton is the primary high-ranking member of the administration to be penalized underneath the Hatch Act.
After the Patton video aired throughout the 2020 R.N.C., some tenants instructed the New York Occasions they had been misled about its function. In an interview on Tuesday, one of many tenants, Manny Martinez, president of the South Jamaica Homes Resident Affiliation, declined to say whether or not he knew the video would air throughout the conference, however stated he agreed to talk on digicam as a result of he wished to attract consideration to poor situations at NYCHA.
“That is just about vindication that what we stated was taken out of context, was not within the method that it was imagined to have been displayed or offered,” he stated. “This goes to point out how our high quality of life is so intricately entangled with politics. Persons are taking part in politics with our lives.”