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N.Y.C. Tenants Say They Were Tricked Into Appearing in R.N.C. Video

Rogue Valley

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N.Y.C. Tenants Say They Were Tricked Into Appearing in R.N.C. Video

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Claudia Perez, left, and Carmen Quiñones.

8/28/20
It started with an unexpected call last week from Lynne Patton, a longtime Trump associate who oversees federal housing programs in New York. Ms. Patton told a leader of a tenants’ group at the New York City Housing Authority, the nation’s largest, that she was interested in speaking with residents about conditions in the authority’s buildings, which have long been in poor repair. Four tenants soon assembled in front of a video camera and were interviewed for more than four hours by Ms. Patton herself. Three of the tenants were never told that their interviews would be edited into a two-minute video clip that would air prominently on Thursday night at the Republican National Convention and be used to bash Mayor Bill de Blasio, the three tenants said in interviews on Friday. “I am not a Trump supporter,” said one of the tenants, 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 episode represents another stark example of how President Trump has deployed government resources to further his political ambitions. Ms. Patton is head of the New York office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and under the Hatch Act is barred from using her position to engage in political activities.

The public housing clip was the second instance of the Trump campaign’s misleading participants in an event involving the federal government that was filmed for the Republican National Convention. On Tuesday, the convention showed a video of five new American citizens being sworn in at a naturalization ceremony by Mr. Trump. Some of the five said they did not know that they were being filmed for a political event. Ms. Patton said that she had spoken with all four tenants on Friday and that they were upset with the way The Times was “twisting their words.” Ms. Patton is a Trump family loyalist who before the president’s election organized tournaments on his golf courses and planned his son Eric’s wedding. She had little experience in housing policy before her appointment to HUD. In 2019, a federal agency found that she had violated the Hatch Act by displaying a Trump campaign hat in her office and “liking” political tweets, though the agency did not recommend that she be disciplined. Ms. Quiñones said she wished that she had been told in advance that the clip would be shown at the convention. She said she was a lifelong Democrat who plans to vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr. in November.

Pretty telling that so many of these apparent endorsements of the Trump agenda that appeared at this week’s RNC were either involuntary or unwitting.

The Trump campaign used people, as they always do.
 
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