Trump officials broke the law by playing politics

Former Trump HUD official Lynne Patton violated the law by using her official authority to produce a video segment for the 2020 Republican National Convention, according to Ana Galindo-Marrone, of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC).

Patton has agreed to a four year ban from federal employment following an investigation stemming from a Hatch Act complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. 

Patton, a former Trump administration political appointee who served as Region II Administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from 2017 until this year.

As part of the agreement, Patton admitted to violating the Hatch Act by using her official position to produce a video about housing conditions for the Republican National Convention (RNC).

“Even in an administration marked by a callous disregard for ethics laws, Lynne Patton stood out,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder. “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.”

“Lynne Patton deserves accountability and deserves to be barred from federal employment,” said Bookbinder. “It is gratifying to see real consequences for outrageous misconduct. We thank the Office of Special Counsel and Merit Systems Protection Board for their hard work toward ensuring an ethical government for the American people.”

The Office of Special Counsel previously referred Patton to the Merit Systems Protection Board for disciplinary action after she violated the Hatch Act by intentionally filming a video with New York City Housing Authority residents to air at the Republican National Convention and lying to those tenants about it, telling them the video was a nonpartisan project.

In a settlement agreement, “Patton admitted that she engaged in activity in violation of the Hatch Act and agreed to serve a 48-month debarment from federal employment and to pay a $1000 fine.”

As a HUD employee, Patton received permission in early 2019 to temporarily live in and observe living conditions in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

During her approximately one-month stay, Patton met residents and later leveraged one of these relationships to recruit participants to film a video that would air at the RNC.

Patton wanted housing authority residents to explain how their standard of living had improved under the Trump administration.

By using information and NYCHA connections available to her solely by virtue of her HUD position, Patton improperly harnessed the authority of her federal position to assist the Trump campaign in violation of the Hatch Act.

Per the terms of the settlement agreement, Patton admitted that she engaged in conduct which violated the Hatch Act’s use of official authority prohibition and agreed to accept a 48-month debarment from federal employment and pay a $1,000 civil fine.

The OSC recently announced settlement agreements reached with numerous federal employees who admitted to violating the Hatch Act.

A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employee escorted a Senate candidate and his campaign’s political director through a federal facility. The employee had twice received Hatch Act advice about candidate visits before engaging in the prohibited activity. The since-retired employee agreed to pay a $1000 civil fine.

While on duty or in a federal workplace, another VA employee posted to Twitter dozens of tweets and retweets directed toward the success or failure of candidates for President and the U.S. Senate. The employee had prior knowledge of the Hatch Act and agreed to serve a 25-day unpaid suspension.

A third VA employee used his official title when endorsing the campaign of a Hawaii state representative running for partisan political office. The employee agreed to serve a 7-day unpaid suspension.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employee solicited political contributions for the union’s political action committee from two other FAA employees while on duty and in the workplace. The employee had prior knowledge of the Hatch Act and agreed to serve a 30-day unpaid suspension.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employee, while on duty, posted numerous partisan political messages to his personal Facebook account expressing opposition towards presidential candidates and a political party. The employee had knowledge of the Hatch Act and knew his conduct violated the law. He had also previously been disciplined twice for posting on social media while on duty. The employee agreed to serve a 30-day unpaid suspension.

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