A Trump administration official has shrugged off a law meant to stop federal employees from using their positions for political gain.
“I honestly don’t care anymore,” said Lynne Patton of the Hatch Act. Patton heads the largest regional office at Housing and Urban Development, and she made the comments in a Facebook post Wednesday.
Patton was discussing a tweet by the account @Education4Libs that she shared Wednesday from her private and official HUD Twitter accounts. The tweet lit into liberals for what it said is a double-standard for Rep. Alexandria Ocasa-Cortez (D-NY) and HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
“I find it funny how liberals will laugh & mock Ben Carson for a simple miscommunication yet praise Ocasio-Cortez as if she’s a genius,” the tweet read. “One of them is a brain surgeon who separated conjoined twins at the heads & the other just figured out what a garbage disposal is. Case closed.”
The tweet came the day after Carson flubbed his answer to a question about Real Estate Owned, or REO, properties from Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), first mistaking “REO” for “Oreo,” a brand of sandwich cookie, then guessing inaccurately that the acronym stood for Real Estate Organization.
When Patton re-tweeted a defense of Carson from her official HUD account that also lambasted Ocasa-Cortez and criticized liberals, she may have run afoul of the Hatch Act, a 1939 law that prevents federal employees from using government time or resources for political activities.
Still, Patton was defiant.
“Just retweeted this amazing tweet from both of my Twitter accounts – professional and personal,” she wrote on Facebook. “It may be a Hatch Act violation. It may not be. Either way, I honestly don’t care anymore. These people are determined to try to ruin and discredit a good man.”
The Office of Special Counsel, which enforces the Hatch Act, has found that several Trump administration officials violated the act on their official Twitter accounts:
The White House’s director of social media, Dan Scavino Jr., received a warning from OSC in June 2017 after he took to Twitter to call for a primary challenge to Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). In September 2017, OSC warned former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley over sharing a tweet from her official account in which President Donald Trump promoted the candidacy of Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC). Last July, OSC warned First Lady Melania Trump’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, for including Trump’s campaign slogan, “MAGA,” in a tweet from her official account. Six current or former White House officials received warnings in December for partisan tweets from their official accounts. Four of the six used the campaign slogan “MAGA” in official tweets, while two shared research from the Republican National Committee.
The Office of Special Counsel is separate from the Special Counsel’s Office, which investigated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Both are part of the Justice Department.
Former President Barack Obama’s HUD secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, violated the Hatch Act in February 2012 when urged a Human Rights Campaign gala to “make sure that in November [Obama] continues to be president for another four years.” Sebelius reimbursed the U.S. Treasury and received new Hatch Act training.
Patton has been a controversial figure since she was appointed. She previously worked as an event planner for the Trump family and has no experience with housing policy.
“In the end, [liberals] will only serve to destroy themselves and this great country when successful men and women from the private sector refuse to become public servants and a target of their undeserving partisan hate and obstruction,” her Facebook post added.