Whether or not you align with her particular brand of politics, the recent admonishment of former housing official Lynne Patton warrants legitimate questioning.
On Tuesday Patton, a Trump appointed Housing and Urban Housing director for New York and New Jersey, was docked for violating the Hatch Act over a video she produced for the 2020 Republican National Convention.
The Hatch Act was formed to ensure public officials would be barred from bribing or coercing voters in exchange for a vote. It also restricts certain federal employees from partaking in certain political activities.
As part of the settlement, Patton will have to pay a $1,000 fine and will be barred from federal employment for two years. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found that Patton leveraged her relationship with a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) resident to meet and recruit participants for a film that appeared at the RNC, documenting the ways living conditions were “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,” OSC’s statement reads.
According to Politico, the initial complaint which led to Patton’s investigation was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan U.S. government ethics and accountability watchdog or group.
Now the argument here is not whether or not Patton violated the Hatch Act–by Patton’s own admission, she agreed that she violated the rules set within the 1939 law.
The real argument is the fact that out of all of Trump’s former advisors and certain high-ranking members of his administration, Patton, a Black woman is the only person to face the charge?
The convenient selection was not missed by those on social media.
Walter Shaub, a senior ethics fellow for the Project on Government Oversight and a former director for the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, shared that the Hatch Law only exempts Senate-appointees from having to pay the fine.
This would mean dozens others like Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley and Kellyanne Conway would be subject to also possibly have to pay a fine, but diverted from having to do so, Shaub shared.
OSC’s decision to move forward with a fine while others who violated the law in similar or exceeding fashion is notable. Conway, a notable and repeat offender of the policy has never been publicly reprimanded ,even though the OSC previously recommended she face termination.
Last year Patton, a former event planner for the Trump family, told The New York Times that video participants were told that the video would play during the RNC convention, even though multiple participants said they were uniformed regarding the purpose.
“Each participated regardless of political party because they recognized the importance of having a voice on the national stage and the undeniable improvements that have transpired under this administration,” Patton said.
Patton, along with Omarosa Manigault Newman, (who was recently sued by the Justice Department) is just is another example of what happens when you position yourself for wealth and notoriety, even if that means rubbing elbows with the devil.