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World Ex-Trump Official Was Finally Punished Under the Hatch Act. Who’s Next?

12:41  08 april  2021
12:41  08 april  2021 Source:   thedailybeast.com

Lynne Patton Punishment 'Gratifying,' Says Ethics Group That Complained About Ex-Trump Official

  Lynne Patton Punishment 'Gratifying,' Says Ethics Group That Complained About Ex-Trump Official The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said Tuesday that the former Trump official violated the Hatch Act in connection with a video that aired during the 2020 Republican National Convention.Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), addressed the Hatch Act violations of Lynne Patton, who served as HUD's Region II administrator during former President Donald Trump's administration, in a Tuesday tweet and in a statement posted on CREW's website.

Other Trump administration officials remain under investigation for alleged Hatch Act violations, including several that occurred during the convention. The most notable among them is former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who delivered his GOP convention speech during an official visit to Israel. “Laws like the Hatch Act exist for a reason and we hope this sends a message to other officials that violating the law has consequences,” Campaign for Accountability Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said in a statement. Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility of

Who enforces the Hatch Act ? The law is enforced by the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency that enforces Civil Service laws governing federal employees. By most legal interpretations, the president is the only person who can terminate political appointees for violating the law. For most other career officials , violations are reviewed by the United States Merit Systems Protection Board. Though the board can prosecute and punish civil servants for violations, a finding by the Office of Special Counsel that a political appointee violated the Hatch Act would be left to the president.

For years, flagrant violations of the Hatch Act were rivaled only by “Infrastructure Week” as the grimmest running joke of the Trump administration. But nearly three months after President Donald Trump left office, a former administration official has been formally disciplined for exploiting their position for political purposes—and more could be on the way.

a close up of Sei Ashina: Drew Angerer © Provided by The Daily Beast Drew Angerer

Lynne Patton, a longtime Trump Organization fixture and former event planner, ran afoul of the Hatch Act on multiple occasions during her tenure as public liaison director for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but openly dismissed any chance of facing discipline for violating the law.

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Under the relevant statute, the punishments for a Hatch Act violation can include removal from office, a reduction in grade, debarment from federal employment for up to five years, suspension or reprimand. Others in the administration have also come under the Special Counsel' s scrutiny for activities that appeared to cross the line in support of Trump ' s reelection. OSC ordered Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in October to reimburse taxpayers for using an official event to promote Trump ’ s reelection and is currently investigating Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for remarks she

Lynne Patton, who was appointed a regional administrator with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 2017, admitted to violating Hatch Act – that prohibits some federal employees from participating in political activities. "During her approximately one-month stay, Patton met residents and later leveraged one of these relationships to recruit participants to film a video that would air at the RNC. Patton wanted NYCHA residents to appear in the video to explain how their standard of living had improved under the Trump administration," a statement from the Office of Special Counsel read.

“Just retweeted this amazing tweet from both of my Twitter accounts—professional and personal,” Patton wrote in a 2019 Facebook post after sharing a meme from a conservative account. “It may be a Hatch Act violation. It may not be. Either way, I honestly don’t care anymore.”

On Tuesday, however, Patton was finally disciplined for violating the ethics law, accepting a settlement from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel that included a $1,000 fine and a four-year ban from serving in the federal government. Patton was also required to admit that she had knowingly violated the law when she recruited residents of public housing to appear in a video championing Trump at the Republican National Convention last year.

Normally, such violations were shrugged off by Trump officials as bureaucratic “oopsies.” But with the election of President Joe Biden, the Office of Special Counsel and the Merit Systems Protection Board—the government agency tasked with adjudicating cases of potential Hatch Act violations, which sat without a board quorum for the entirety of Trump’s time in office—are beginning to chip at the vast backlog of complaints from the Trump era.

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Lindell, a Trump advisor who backed many of his conspiracy theories about massive election fraud, appeared unexpectedly at the White House Friday afternoon. A Marine was stationed outside the West Wing, indicating Trump was most likely there. He posted brief comments, which appear to be made aboard a private jet, where he wrote that ‘Donald Trump is going to be your president for the next 4 years.’ Lindell retweeted a tweet by Right Side Broadcasting Network January 10 which bashed the idea of impeachment as pointless.

On Friday we reported that President Trump spoke to workers at a Whirlpool factory in Clyde, Ohio, to tout his efforts to restore America’ s manufacturing base. During the speech Trump also spoke about his work to reform prescription drug pricing by the pharmaceutical industry. While speaking about reducing drug prices by cutting out the middlemen, Trump dropped this line saying, “So, I have a lot of enemies out there. This might be the last time you’ll see me for awhile.” This was a very unusual and purposeful statement that he made.

The Office of Special Counsel would not confirm the existence of pending investigations, but said that it is slightly constrained by the timing of complaints that were filed with the Merit Systems Protection Board.

“In order for OSC to file a complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board, OSC would have had to file the complaint while the subject was still a federal employee,” Zachary Kurz, a spokesperson for the Office of Special Counsel, told The Daily Beast. “Otherwise MSPB no longer has jurisdiction.”

But the enormous number of extant complaints submitted to the board—which now number in the thousands—mean that some Trumpworld figures are nervous that they may actually face consequences for violating the Hatch Act.

“Let me put it this way: people are going to wish they’d never tweeted,” texted one person close to the White House.

“Even in an administration marked by a callous disregard for ethics laws, Lynne Patton stood out,” Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the ethics watchdog organization that initially filed the complaint against Patton. “What made her behavior particularly egregious was that she not only used her position for political purposes, she misled and exploited public housing residents for political gain, showing little regard for the people she was supposed to be helping and the ethics rules she was supposed to be following.”

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The Hatch Act is suddenly on everyone' s radar after news broke that the Trump administration plans to use the White House South Lawn for President Donald Trump ’ s nationally televised nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention later this month. Twitter lit up in response citing The legislation came about after Democratic officials used federal workers in the Works Progress Administration to help them campaign in swing states. Its purpose is to separate public office from politics. The philosophy behind the Hatch Act is to prevent federal employees from engaging in

Trump ’ s legal team insisted the chamber lacks the jurisdiction to try an ex -president. Six Republicans joined Senate Democrats on Tuesday to give the go-ahead for Trump ’ s second impeachment trial. Mitt Romney, Bill Cassidy, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Pat Toomey broke with the rest of their party to guarantee the trial moves ahead. In the run-up to the proceedings, however, Raskin was accused of hypocrisy by some Republicans, who recalled that he objected to Trump ’ s Electoral College votes from Florida back in 2017.

Patton’s actions were far from an outlier in the Trump administration, where senior officials developed a years-long pattern of violating the Hatch Act, mostly with impunity. The Republican National Convention alone presented a tsunami of potential violations of the law, from former acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf hosting a naturalization ceremony during primetime to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision to address the RNC from Jerusalem to the location of its closing night on the White House lawn.

In October 2020 alone, CREW found that 16 Trump officials had violated the Hatch Act an astonishing 60 times, including first daughter/senior adviser Ivanka Trump, son-in-law/senior adviser Jared Kushner, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, trade honcho Peter Navarro, and communications director Alyssa Farah—but the administration’s seniormost officials were openly contemptuous of the law, which forbids using a government position or government resources for political purposes.

“Nobody outside of the Beltway really cares—they expect that Donald Trump is going to promote Republican values and they would expect that Barack Obama, when he was in office, that he would do the same for Democrats,” former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows—a onetime stickler for the Hatch Act—told Politico in August, calling concerns by ethics experts “a lot of hoopla.”

Or, as former White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said shortly before the Office of Special Counsel determined that she should have been removed from government service for her repeated violations of the Hatch Act: “Blah, blah, blah… Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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