HUD regional administrator and longtime Trump aid reprimanded for Hatch Act violations
Long before she became a regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Trump Administration in 2017, Lynne Patton had a close relationship with the Trump family: Patton was an event planner for the Trump Organization and helped run the Eric Trump Foundation. And Patton, according to Law & Crime, has received a letter of reprimand following two Hatch Act complaints made against her at the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC).
But the OSC, not to be confused with the office that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller had with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) during the Russia investigation, did not feel that Patton’s actions were egregious enough for any type of suspension and believed that a simple reprimand was enough.
“Although OSC concluded that Ms. Patton violated the Hatch Act,” the department officially stated, “we decided her violations do not warrant disciplinary action and are closing our files without further action.”
The Hatch Act, signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939 and amended in 2012, prohibits employees of the executive branch of the United States’ federal government from engaging in certain types of political activities. The president and vice president are exempt from the Hatch Act’s requirements.
One of the complaints had to do with Patton’s use of Twitter via her official account. According to Erica S. Hamrick (deputy chief of the Hatch Act Unit at the OSC), Patton “liked” four tweets from Republicans that were overtly partisan. And the other complaint, Harnick said, had to do with Patton “displaying a campaign hat in her HUD office.”
The OSC stated that Patton has been “advised that if, in the future, she engages in prohibited political activity while employed in a position covered by the Hatch Act, we will consider such activity to be a willful and knowing violation of the law — which could result in further action.”
The complaints against Patton to the OSC were made by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). And CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder believes that Patton got off easy.
Law & Crime quotes Bookbinder as saying, “After years of serving Donald Trump’s interests, it appears that Lynne Patton is still doing so in her taxpayer-funded job. In a democracy, laws preventing the government from acting to keep itself in power are crucial — and we will work tirelessly to see that they are enforced.”
Bookbinder added, “The Trump Administration is an ethical quagmire, full of officials who act as if their job is to advance the president’s personal and political interests at taxpayer expense. Change needs to happen for the good of our democracy.”