Video of NYCHA tenants during RNC should be probed for Hatch Act violations: official

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NEW YORK CITY — A New York City councilman is demanding an investigation into the use of a “deceptive” video featuring public housing residents during the Republican National Convention.

City Councilman Ritchie Torres on Sunday called for the Inspector General of the New York City Housing Authority to investigate whether President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign violated the Hatch Act while creating the video, which was critical of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the living conditions in public housing.

Three NYCHA residents said they didn’t know that their comments from when they spoke with Lynne Patton, a Trump administration appointee with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, were going to be used in support of Trump, The New York Times reported Friday.

Torres said on Sunday that the video raises questions regarding the use of government resources for political purposes, which is prohibited under the Hatch Act of 1939.

The 80-year-old Hatch Act forbids most government employees in the executive branch from engaging in political campaign activity while working in their official capacities.

“Trump and his team view NYCHA residents as a pawn in some sick political game,” Torres said in a statement. “The fact is there are 600,000 people who live in NYCHA buildings and when Donald Trump looked at them he didn’t see people – he saw a community he could lie to for his own gain. This was a disgusting abuse of power and there needs to be a full investigation by the inspector general to determine if any laws were broken.”

On Twitter, Patton pushed back strongly against the idea the residents had been tricked, and condemned the Times.

This story comprises reporting from Scripps and The Associated Press.

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