Three New York City public housing tenants whose criticisms of Mayor Bill de Blasio were featured in a video at the Republican National Convention reportedly said they did not know their remarks would be used for such a purpose.
A fourth resident said she was fully aware of the purpose of the interview she gave, and the Trump official who conducted it said she was upfront with the tenants who appeared on video at the convention.
In a two and a half minute video, tenants in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) apartments are seen bashing de Blasio and praising the Trump administration’s work for public housing.
Lynne Patton, a Trump aide who oversees Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs in New York, reportedly asked the leader of a tenants’ group at NYCHA if she could speak with residents about the conditions of the housing authority’s buildings, long known to be in disrepair.
Four tenants were filmed as they sat down with Patton and spent four hours answering questions. Three of the tenants told the New York Times it was never disclosed to them that the video would air Thursday night at the RNC.
“I am not a Trump supporter,” said one tenant, Claudia Perez. “I am not a supporter of his racist policies on immigration. I am a first-generation Honduran. It was my people he was sending back.”
The fourth tenant told the Times she was a Trump backer and knew the purpose of the video.
The Trump campaign also told Fox News that the four tenants knew the interview's purpose. "All interview subjects were fully aware of the purpose of the interviews and gave verbal consent on camera," Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.
“For the record, @matthewhaag refused multiple requests to have a joint conference call w/me & the residents to set the record straight,” Patton tweeted Friday night, referencing the reporter who wrote the Times story. “ Each resident is on unused tape thanking @POTUS for the ‘RNC platform’ to highlight inhumane conditions & improvements made under this Admin.”
Perez said she stood by her criticism of de Blasio and New York City public housing, but was “furious” about being featured at the RNC.
Perez said that one tenant leader, Carmen Quiñones, called her to say Patton was with her and wanted to talk to residents about the housing authority’s performance. Quiñones told the Times she was “disappointed” her words were twisted to make her seem like a Trump supporter.
But later in the story, the Times pointed out that Quiñones seemed content to be offered a platform.
“For me, this was not about party, but for us to make the national stage,” Quiñones said. “They were the only ones that offered. My own party didn’t offer.”
“It is what it is,” she said when asked if she was concerned about being misled. She added that Patton has been a strong advocate for public housing.
Quiñones said she supports the Democratic Party except for one, de Blasio, whom she blames for worsening conditions across the housing authority, which has 400,000 tenants.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference in May.
Perez told the Times the four tenants were told the video clip would be used for the Republican Party after questioning ended, but never told it would be aired at the convention.
Perez said she demanded to see the edited clip, but no one showed it to her. She said Quiñones called her minutes before the clip aired on Thursday night to say it would be shown.
Patton claims she showed the tenants the video prior to its airing and they were pleased with it.
“Every resident of @NYCHA knows that I would never allow the @GOPconvention to air anything with which they felt uncomfortable & showed the draft video – in full – to the resident organizer PRIOR to its airing and was told by them that it was ‘amazing’ and ‘wholly accurate,’” Patton said.
The one Trump supporter in the clip, Judy Smith, was quoted in the video saying, “I’m grateful for the spotlight that President Trump is putting on New York City public housing.”
Smith claimed in the video that de Blasio gives preference to undocumented immigrants for public housing, which has a lengthy waiting list.