It began with an surprising telephone name from Lynne Patton, a longtime Trump worker who oversees New York state housing packages.
Ms. Patton advised a tenant group chief on the New York Metropolis Housing Authority, the biggest within the nation, that she was taken with talking to residents in regards to the circumstances within the company’s buildings, which have lengthy been in disrepair.
4 tenants quickly gathered in entrance of a video digicam and had been interviewed by Ms. Patton herself for greater than 4 hours. Three of the tenants had been by no means knowledgeable that their interviews can be edited in a two-minute video clip that will be featured prominently on Thursday evening on the Republican Nationwide Conference and used to beat up Mayor Invoice de Blasio, the three tenants mentioned in interviews on Friday.
“I am not a Trump supporter,” mentioned one of many tenants, Claudia Perez. “I’m not in favor of his racist immigration coverage. I’m a primary technology Honduran. It was my folks that he despatched again. “
The episode is one other highly effective instance of how President Trump used authorities assets to additional his political ambitions. Ms. Patton is the director of the New York Division for the Division of Housing and City Improvement. Below the Hatch Act, she is prohibited from utilizing her authorities place for political actions.
All through the conference, Mr Trump has damaged the normal boundaries between authorities and politics, and the video aired on the evening the marketing campaign took over the southern garden of the White Home, the primary time a serious political conference was held there.
The general public housing clip was the second occasion of the deceptive Trump marketing campaign members in an occasion involving the federal authorities that was filmed for the Republican Nationwide Conference. On Tuesday, Congress confirmed a video of 5 new Americans being sworn in by Mr. Trump at a naturalization ceremony. A few of the 5 mentioned they did not know they had been being filmed for a political occasion.
The 4 tenants within the public housing video had been all interviewed by the New York Occasions on Friday. Three mentioned they had been in opposition to President Trump and had been misled by the video. The fourth, reached late Friday evening, mentioned she was a Trump supporter and knew the aim of the video.
Within the video, tenants raised issues in regards to the circumstances within the housing authority’s buildings, praised Mr Trump’s social housing data, and attacked Mr de Blasios. Ms. Perez, one of many tenants, mentioned in an interview on Friday afternoon that she stood by her criticism of the company however was offended about it, in a video posted on the R.N.C.
Ms. Perez mentioned she had a name final week from one other tenant, Carmen Quiñones, who mentioned Ms. Patton was along with her on the Frederick Douglass Homes in Manhattan and needed to talk to residents in regards to the housing authority’s efficiency.
It was solely after the interview was over that the 4 tenants had been advised that the interview was for the Republican Occasion, Ms. Perez mentioned. However she mentioned she was by no means advised it was for Congress.
Ms. Perez mentioned she requested to see the edited model of the clip, however nobody had ever proven it to her. She added that Ms. Quiñones referred to as her minutes earlier than the clip aired on Thursday evening to say it was about to be proven.
In the course of the pandemic, Ms. Perez and Ms. Quiñones have helped with the deployment A whole bunch of 1000’s of meals for residents who would in any other case not have eaten. One of many distributors who offered the meals, a Muslim-owned agricultural enterprise, referred to as a Ms. Perez worker on Friday and requested why she appeared on a video in assist of Mr. Trump, Ms. Perez mentioned.
Tim Murtagh, a spokesman for the Trump marketing campaign, defended the dealing with of the video. “All interviewees had been totally conscious of the aim of the interviews,” he mentioned. “Lynne Patton was performing in her personal private capability.”
Ms. Patton declined to be interviewed and mentioned she was touring. Nevertheless, she issued a press release denying deceptive the 4 tenants, saying they knew their interviews had been being proven at Congress “to boost consciousness of the inhumane circumstances confronted by mayors de Blasio has allowed far too lengthy “.
“Everybody participated, no matter political social gathering, as a result of they acknowledged the significance of getting a voice on the nationwide stage and the plain enhancements which have come below that administration,” mentioned Ms. Patton.
She mentioned the video had been reviewed and accredited by the White Home for Hatch Act violations.
Ms. Patton mentioned she spoke to all 4 tenants on Friday and that they had been upset at how the Occasions “twisted their phrases”.
In a separate interview, Ms. Quiñones mentioned she spoke to Ms. Patton on Friday afternoon and was pleased with the best way The Occasions portrayed her. She mentioned she was upset that her phrases had been twisted to create the impression she was a Trump supporter.
Ms. Perez and a 3rd renter, Manny Martinez, mentioned they didn’t communicate to Ms. Patton on Friday and have no idea what she was speaking about.
Ms. Patton is a Trump household loyalist who organized tournaments on his golf programs and deliberate his son Eric’s wedding ceremony earlier than the presidential election. She had little expertise in housing coverage previous to her appointment to the HUD.
In 2019 a Federal agency found that she had violated the Hatch Act by exhibiting off a Trump marketing campaign hat in her workplace and “liking” political tweets regardless of the company not recommending self-discipline.
Ms. Patton performs an essential position in overseeing the New York Metropolis Housing Authority, which owns greater than 300 properties, a few of that are 1000’s of items. They’ve lengthy been a lifeline for working class renters and have lengthy ready lists for housing.
However over time the buildings have deteriorated and been tormented by poor upkeep.
In 2019, Mr de Blasio agreed to just accept a robust monitor for the housing authority after a federal investigation documented poor dwelling circumstances and mismanagement.
The one Trump supporter among the many 4 tenants was Judy Smith, quoted within the video: “I’m grateful for the limelight that President Trump is placing on public housing in New York Metropolis.”
Within the video, Ms. Smith additionally alleged, with out producing proof, that the de Blasio authorities had given undocumented immigrants preferences for public housing.
In an interview on Friday evening, Ms. Smith mentioned she was pleased with the video. “Republicans gave public housing individuals a platform to specific their grievances,” she mentioned.
Ms. Quiñones, the chief of the tenants group, defined how the video happened and confirmed that Ms. Patton had reached out to her to assemble tenants to debate the company.
However Ms. Quiñones mentioned she did not understand till the cameras began and the questions started that Ms. Patton had truly recruited the tenants for interviews for the social gathering.
Ms. Quiñones mentioned she wished she had recognized prematurely that the clip can be proven on the conference. She mentioned she was a lifelong Democrat who will vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr. in November. She was interviewed on Friday whereas marching in Washington on the Get Your Knee Off Our Necks rally sponsored by one other Trump goal, Rev. Al Sharpton.
When requested if she was involved about being misled, Ms. Quiñones mentioned, “It’s what it’s.”
She added that she had determined to take the chance to spotlight what she thought had been main issues with the housing authority below Mr de Blasio.
“For me it wasn’t about partying, it was about getting on the nationwide stage,” mentioned Ms. Quiñones. “They had been the one ones who provided. My very own social gathering did not supply. “
Ms. Quiñones mentioned Ms. Patton was a robust housing authority lawyer.
She mentioned she supported the Democratic Occasion except for one particular person, Mr de Blasio, who she held answerable for the deteriorating circumstances within the Douglass Homes in Manhattan and all through the housing authority of 400,000 tenants.
The third tenant, Mr Martinez, mentioned he was requested to attend the assembly with Ms. Patton with out discover, however took the chance to specific his issues about public housing. “This was not an endorsement from Trump,” he mentioned.
Mr de Blasio didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
However on Thursday evening, his spokesman, Invoice Neidhardt, referred to as the video a “cynical try and pit black Individuals in opposition to immigrants,” a reference to the declare in Ms. Smith’s video that undocumented immigrants had been allowed to adapt to housing in entrance of Americans.
“It is flawed,” Mr. Neidhardt wrote on Twitter. “After many years of divestment, Mayor de Blasio has made historic investments in NYCHA. However not less than this a lot is true: the mayor lives rent-free in Trump’s head. “