Former Trump HUD Official Punished For Violating Hatch Act Lynne Patton. (Drew Angerer/Getty)
By Brian Freeman | Tuesday, 06 April 2021 05:05 PM
Former Trump housing official Lynne Patton has been fined $1,000 and barred from federal employment for four years for violating the Hatch Act, Politico reports.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced its decision on Tuesday.
The federal watchdog investigated Patton after the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington complained that she had violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch employees from engaging in political activities while on duty.
Patton, who served as Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regional administrator for New York and New Jersey, produced a video with New York City Housing Authority residents to air at the 2020 Republican National Convention.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said Patton used her role as a regional HUD administrator to stay in New York public housing for a month and “leveraged” a relationship she made while living there to “recruit participants to film a video that would air at the RNC,” Forbes reported.
Making matters worse, several of the tenants who appeared in the video, which was very critical of Democratic New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and praised former President Donald Trump, later stated that they had been tricked into participating in the video and said they are not backers of Trump.
Patton had been the vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation and reportedly planned his wedding before her appointment to a top post at HUD, where she regularly was criticized for making political statements on the job, according to Politico.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel had previously reprimanded her in 2019 for using her official government Twitter account to promote political tweets and displaying a red “USA” hat sold by the Trump campaign in her office. She had earlier that year posted to Facebook that she “honestly [didn’t] care anymore” whether she was violating the Hatch Act with her tweets.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington president Noah Bookbinder called the employment ban “gratifying,” Politico reported
“Even in an administration marked by a callous disregard for ethics laws, Lynne Patton stood out,” Bookbinder said. “What made her behavior particularly egregious was that she not only used her position for political purposes, she misled and exploited public housing residents for political gain, showing little regard for the people she was supposed to be helping and the ethics rules she was supposed to be following.”
Campaign for Accountability Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith added that “Laws like the Hatch Act exist for a reason and we hope this sends a message to other officials that violating the law has consequences,” according to Forbes.
The Hatch Act was often dismissed by The Trump administration, which had far more allegations of ethics violations than previous administrations, Forbes reported.
Several Trump officials faced punishment, while many others accused of repeated violations have evaded repercussions.
Some Trump administration officials remain under investigation for alleged violations of the act, including several that took place during the RNC.