CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington—Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator Lynne Patton appears to have violated the Hatch Act, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC). Before joining the administration, Patton served as Vice President of the Eric Trump Foundation and Senior Assistant to Eric, Ivanka, and Donald Trump, Jr.
Patton likely violated the Hatch Act by using her official government Twitter account to “like” partisan political tweets by the Republican National Committee (RNC), RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and President Trump. Patton used her official @LynnePattonHUD account and not her personal account—which directs people to her HUD account “for official tweets”—giving strong evidence that she likely engaged in political activity prohibited by law.
“The rules are clear that government officials aren’t allowed to use their positions for partisan political activity,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “Separating government work from politics is important, and Patton’s prior work for the president’s family does not exempt her from the rules.”
The Hatch Act prohibits any executive branch employee from using their “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” OSC guidance on applying the Hatch Act prohibitions to social media, including Twitter, specifically advises that an employee may not “retweet or like” a political tweet “from [an] account used for official purposes.”
The Trump administration has shown a pattern of Hatch Act violations. Following previous CREW complaints, both Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino Jr. were reprimanded for Hatch Act violations. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway also has been reprimanded for violating the Hatch Act.
“There is a complete and total disregard for ethics in this administration,” Bookbinder said. “There have been far too many violations of the Hatch Act and so many other important rules and laws, and this pattern cannot be allowed to continue.”