Lynne Patton, a regional administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, wrote last week that she may have broken a federal law meant to prevent officials from politicizing their government positions, but said that even if that were the case, she “honestly” didn’t care.
“Just retweeted this amazing tweet from both of my Twitter accounts — professional and personal,” Patton wrote on Facebook last week, pointing to a message that championed her boss, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, but was critical of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). “It may be a Hatch Act violation. It may not be.”
“Either way,” she continued, “I honestly don’t care anymore.”
The 1939 Hatch Act prohibits officials working in the executive branch from using their “official authority for political purposes” and is meant to prevent “federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity,” according to the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Many members within the Trump administration have run afoul of the law before, and last November, six White House officials were reprimanded for using their social media accounts in violation of the Hatch Act.
Patton, who is paid an annual salary of $161,900, according to 2017 figures, is tasked with overseeing one of HUD’s largest regions with a budget in the billions of dollars. But when someone pointed out her potential lawbreaking, Patton doubled down on Sunday evening, mocking those critical of her as “lazy internet parrots” and “liberal snowflakes” on her personal Twitter account.
CREW has singled out Patton for violating the Hatch Act before, including an instance in April when the official displayed Trump campaign material in her government office. The group notes that Patton is currently under investigation by the Office of Special Counsel for using her official Twitter account for partisan activity.