Who is Lynne Patton? Trump HUD official fined for filming at NYC housing project, denies 'tricking' tenants
Patton, whose appointment had come under the scanner owing to her little experience in the field, was also barred from federal employment for at least four years
Lynne Patton, who served as an administrator of the housing and urban development department for Region II during the Donald Trump presidency, has been accused of improperly using her authority to film a video about New York City residents for the Republican National Convention.
On Tuesday, April 6, the US Office of Special Counsel announced a settlement with Patton, who had worked as an event planner prior to her appointment in the Trump administration. She was fined $1,000 and barred from any federal employment for four years on charges of abusing her position to assist Trump’s re-election campaign. In 2019, Patton, 47, got permission to live with NYC Housing Authority residents temporarily and the tenants she filmed alleged that they were tricked into appearing in her video that aimed to portray that housing conditions had improved under the former Republican president, the New York Times reported last August.
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“The video aired on the final night of the Republican National Convention in August, a two-minute clip featuring four New York City public housing tenants praising President Donald Trump’s record and bashing the city’s mayor,” the NYT said in another report published on Tuesday.
“But within hours of the broadcast, three of the residents said they were tricked into appearing in the video, did not support Mr. Trump and accused a top federal housing official, Lynne Patton, of orchestrating the production and misleading them about its intentions,” the report added.
Patton told CNN she doesn't regret filming and denied allegations that tenants were "tricked." "And yes, I received advance permission and written legal guidance from the HUD Office of the General Counsel & Ethics and followed their instructions to a 'T,' which can be confirmed by over 4 hours of independent audio and video. Unfortunately, after consulting multiple Hatch Act lawyers post-employment, receiving incorrect and/or incomplete legal advice, even in good faith, from your own agency does not an affirmative defense make," she said.
Did Patton violate the Hatch Act?
Patton said the White House signed off on her involvement but a federal agency on Tuesday found that she had violated a federal law called the Hatch Act (1939) that prevents most federal employees from using their government position to involve in political activities. The former Trump aide later admitted to the violation, according to the office of special counsel, and agreed to pay the fine and not to serve in the federal government for at least four years, the NYT report added.
This is not the first time that Patton, who served in the housing department between July 2017 and January this year, has courted a controversy. Her very appointment had come under the scanner since she had no experience in the field she served and used the government position to promote Trump and his views, many of which were debatable.
Patton saw Eric Trump's businesses, personal engagements
Patton has been a longtime employee of the Trump family and started working for Eric Trump, the former president’s second son, in 2009 as the vice president of his foundation as well as his primary aide. She oversaw his businesses, charity and even personal engagements that included “home and spouse responsibilities as well as coordinating events”, the Washington Post reported in August 2017.
In 2012, Patton got the rewards of her loyalty when she was promoted to become the Trump family’s senior aide and chief of staff, serving as the principal contact between the family and its corporate partners, heads of state and high-end donors. Patton also worked for the other children of the former president, including Donald Trump Jr., Tiffany and Ivanka besides Lara, the wife of Eric.
During Trump’s presidential campaign, Patton worked as his senior adviser and family liaison and focused on minority engagement. She also worked as a part-time speaker at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
The WaPo said in June 2017, former housing department secretary Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon with zero expertise in housing policy as well, accused Patton of running the agency's regional office looking after New York and New Jersey. The appointment of Patton caused a controversy not only because she had no experience but also because the former president had a four percent stake in Starrett City, Brooklyn, one of the country's largest subsidized housing complexes.
Patton served as one of the department's 10 regional administrators and her position saw her taking home more than $160,000 a year.