Lynne Patton, a former Trump administration official, has been fined and barred from federal employment for four years after violating the Hatch Act, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced Tuesday.
The investigative agency announced a settlement with Patton, who oversaw Housing and Urban Development in New York and New Jersey starting in 2017, and said she misused her office to help former President Donald Trump’s failed 2020 re-election effort.
In 2019, as a regional head of HUD, Patton announced her plan to spend a month living in New York public housing. The Office of Special Counsel said she inappropriately used her position when she later recruited one of the residents she had met to find other residents who would say positive things about Trump for a video that would air at the Republican National Convention.
“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,” the office said in a press release.
In addition to her four-year ban from federal employment, Patton will pay a $1,000 fine. The announcement will likely provoke discussions about other potential Hatch Act violators, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway, advisers who frequently made political statements while serving in their official roles.
Patton’s powerful role in HUD was widely criticized from the moment Trump appointed her. Patton, like former HUD Secretary Ben Carson, had no experience in housing policy before Trump picked her to lead Region 2, the densely populated region including New York and New Jersey. Prior to working in HUD, where she briefly worked as the secretary’s adviser, Patton was an aide to the Trump family and the former president’s son, Eric Trump.
In 2019, during her brief stay in New York public housing, many residents and co-tenants viewed the stint as a publicity stunt. Patton openly condemned public housing conditions and blamed them entirely on officials in New York City, who were frequent targets of the former president. In reality, experts have said continued cuts to HUD are responsible for the lack of affordable, quality housing in the United States. Trump proposed slashing billions of dollars from HUD’s budget in his 2021 fiscal plan made public last year.
In 2019, Patton controversially claimed she’d been given clearance from “the Trump family” to participate in a reality show while working as a high-ranking HUD official.
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