According to The New York Times, New York City tenants said that their interviews with a government official were used without permission for the Republican National Convention, even though the tenants were not supporters of President Trump.
- It started when Lynne Patton, a “longtime Trump associate who oversees federal housing programs in New York,” 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,” The Times reported.
- “Four tenants soon assembled in front of a video camera and were interviewed for more than four hours by Ms. Patton herself,” the report stated. “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 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,” The Times continued. 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 government position to engage in political activities.”
- The video was “aired on a night when the campaign took over the South Lawn of the White House, the first time that a major political convention has occurred there,” the report added.
- In addition to the public housing clip, there was another instance “of the Trump campaign’s misleading participants in an event involving the federal government that was filmed” for the convention, according to The Times.
- 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,” the report said.
- The four tenants in the public housing video “were all interviewed on Friday by The New York Times. Three said they opposed President Trump and were misled about the video. The fourth, reached late Friday night, said she was a Trump backer and knew the purpose of the video.”
- In the video, “the tenants raised concerns about conditions in the housing authority’s buildings, praised Mr. Trump’s record on public housing and attacked Mr. de Blasio’s,” The Times wrote. “Ms. Perez, one of the tenants, said in an interview on Friday afternoon that she stood by her criticism of the authority but was furious about being tricked into appearing in a video shown at the R.N.C.”
- Tim Murtagh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, defended the handling of the video. “All interview subjects were fully aware of the purpose of the interviews,” he said. “Lynne Patton was acting in her own personal capacity.”
- Patton said in a statement: “Each participated regardless of political party because they recognized the importance of having a voice on the national stage and the undeniable improvements that have transpired under this administration.”
- Another one of the tenants, Mr. Martinez, said he “was asked to take part in the meeting with Ms. Patton with little notice, but took up the opportunity to air his concerns about public housing,” The Times wrote.
“This was not an endorsement of Trump,” Martinez said.
- Mayor de Blasio’s press secretary, Bill Neidhardt, called the video a “cynical attempt to pit Black Americans against immigrants,” saying on Twitter, “It’s wrong...After decades of disinvestment, Mayor de Blasio has made historic investments in NYCHA. But at least this much is true: The Mayor lives rent free in Trump’s head.”