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Politics

Lynne Patton, Former Trump Aide And HUD Official, Barred From Federal Employment

Lynne Patton, a former Trump administration official, has been fined and barred from federal employment for four years after violating the Hatch Act, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced Tuesday. 

The investigative agency announced a settlement with Patton, who oversaw Housing and Urban Development in New York and New Jersey starting in 2017, and said she misused her office to help former President Donald Trump’s failed 2020 re-election effort. 

In 2019, as a regional head of HUD, Patton announced her plan to spend a month living in New York public housing. The Office of Special Counsel said she inappropriately used her position when she later recruited one of the residents she had met to find other residents who would say positive things about Trump for a video that would air at the Republican National Convention. 

“By using information and NYCHA connections available to her solely by virtue of her HUD position, Patton improperly harnessed the authority of her federal position to assist the Trump campaign in violation of the Hatch Act,” the office said in a press release.

Lynne Patton in January 2019 in New York City. 



Lynne Patton in January 2019 in New York City. 

In addition to her four-year ban from federal employment, Patton will pay a $1,000 fine. The announcement will likely provoke discussions about other potential Hatch Act violators, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway, advisers who frequently made political statements while serving in their official roles.

Patton’s powerful role in HUD was widely criticized from the moment Trump appointed her. Patton, like former HUD Secretary Ben Carson, had no experience in housing policy before Trump picked her to lead Region 2, the densely populated region including New York and New Jersey. Prior to working in HUD, where she briefly worked as the secretary’s adviser, Patton was an aide to the Trump family and the former president’s son, Eric Trump. 

In 2019, during her brief stay in New York public housing, many residents and co-tenants viewed the stint as a publicity stunt. Patton openly condemned public housing conditions and blamed them entirely on officials in New York City, who were frequent targets of the former president. In reality, experts have said continued cuts to HUD are responsible for the lack of affordable, quality housing in the United States. Trump proposed slashing billions of dollars from HUD’s budget in his 2021 fiscal plan made public last year. 

In 2019, Patton controversially claimed she’d been given clearance from “the Trump family” to participate in a reality show while working as a high-ranking HUD official.

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Politics

Matt Gaetz Reportedly Sought Blanket Pardon From Trump In Final Days Of Administration

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) reportedly asked that former President Donald Trump grant him a blanket, preemptive pardon during the final days of Trump’s administration, The New York Times reported Tuesday. 

The publication, citing people familiar with the discussions, said the firebrand lawmaker privately asked the White House for clemency for himself and other, unnamed allies for any crimes they may have committed. The idea didn’t gain any ground with White House lawyers, however, and it’s unclear if Gaetz spoke of the pardons directly with Trump. 

The reports add new complexity to news that Gaetz is under investigation for alleged sex trafficking and allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. The congressman, a staunch ally and vocal defender of Trump, also faced allegations last week that he had shown colleagues photos of naked women he claimed to have slept with.

Gaetz has rejected those claims. His office did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Donald Trump with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).



Donald Trump with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

The Times hadn’t determined if the White House or Gaetz knew about the investigation prior to Gaetz’s request (the lawmaker had publicly called for broad pardons for Trump allies, warning of “bloodlust” from the left). The publication added, however, that some Trump allies have wondered if Gaetz’s public calls were an attempt to mask his own political vulnerabilities.

Trump did ultimately issue pardons for a swath of political allies in his final days, including his former adviser Steve Bannon. But notable names weren’t on the list, including Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and all of Trump’s children.

In a defiant op-ed on Monday, Gaetz said he would “absolutely” not resign and once again rejected allegations he had paid for sex or, “as an adult man … slept with a 17-year-old.”

“Let me first remind everyone that I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal,” the lawmaker wrote in The Washington Examiner. “My personal life is and always has been conducted on my own time and my own dime. Consensual adult relationships are not illegal.”

During the Trump years, Gaetz’s political clout rose meteorically as he became one of the then-president’s most vocal defenders. After Trump lost the 2020 race, the Florida lawmaker touted conspiracy theories that the election was stolen via rampant voter fraud (there is no evidence to back up those claims) and baselessly suggested anti-fascist groups were behind the deadly Capitol riot.

Trump regularly praised Gaetz during his administration, singling him out as one of his most ardent supporters and predicting he would be “going places.”

For now, those days appear to be over. The Times added that Trump’s allies have been urging the former president to stay quiet and distance himself from Gaetz during the investigation.

Categories
Politics

Lynne Patton, Former Trump Aide And HUD Official, Barred From Federal Employment

Lynne Patton, a former Trump administration official, has been fined and barred from federal employment for four years after violating the Hatch Act, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced Tuesday. 

The investigative agency announced a settlement with Patton, who oversaw Housing and Urban Development in New York and New Jersey starting in 2017, and said she misused her office to help former President Donald Trump’s failed 2020 re-election effort. 

In 2019, as a regional head of HUD, Patton announced her plan to spend a month living in New York public housing. The Office of Special Counsel said she inappropriately used her position when she later recruited one of the residents she had met to find other residents who would say positive things about Trump for a video that would air at the Republican National Convention. 

“By using information and NYCHA connections available to her solely by virtue of her HUD position, Patton improperly harnessed the authority of her federal position to assist the Trump campaign in violation of the Hatch Act,” the office said in a press release.

Lynne Patton in January 2019 in New York City. 



Lynne Patton in January 2019 in New York City. 

In addition to her four-year ban from federal employment, Patton will pay a $1,000 fine. The announcement will likely provoke discussions about other potential Hatch Act violators, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway, advisers who frequently made political statements while serving in their official roles.

Patton’s powerful role in HUD was widely criticized from the moment Trump appointed her. Patton, like former HUD Secretary Ben Carson, had no experience in housing policy before Trump picked her to lead Region 2, the densely populated region including New York and New Jersey. Prior to working in HUD, where she briefly worked as the secretary’s adviser, Patton was an aide to the Trump family and the former president’s son, Eric Trump. 

In 2019, during her brief stay in New York public housing, many residents and co-tenants viewed the stint as a publicity stunt. Patton openly condemned public housing conditions and blamed them entirely on officials in New York City, who were frequent targets of the former president. In reality, experts have said continued cuts to HUD are responsible for the lack of affordable, quality housing in the United States. Trump proposed slashing billions of dollars from HUD’s budget in his 2021 fiscal plan made public last year. 

In 2019, Patton controversially claimed she’d been given clearance from “the Trump family” to participate in a reality show while working as a high-ranking HUD official.

Categories
Politics

Matt Gaetz Reportedly Sought Blanket Pardon From Trump In Final Days Of Administration

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) reportedly asked that former President Donald Trump grant him a blanket, preemptive pardon during the final days of Trump’s administration, The New York Times reported Tuesday. 

The publication, citing people familiar with the discussions, said the firebrand lawmaker privately asked the White House for clemency for himself and other, unnamed allies for any crimes they may have committed. The idea didn’t gain any ground with White House lawyers, however, and it’s unclear if Gaetz spoke of the pardons directly with Trump. 

The reports add new complexity to news that Gaetz is under investigation for alleged sex trafficking and allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. The congressman, a staunch ally and vocal defender of Trump, also faced allegations last week that he had shown colleagues photos of naked women he claimed to have slept with.

Gaetz has rejected those claims. His office did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Donald Trump with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).



Donald Trump with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

The Times hadn’t determined if the White House or Gaetz knew about the investigation prior to Gaetz’s request (the lawmaker had publicly called for broad pardons for Trump allies, warning of “bloodlust” from the left). The publication added, however, that some Trump allies have wondered if Gaetz’s public calls were an attempt to mask his own political vulnerabilities.

Trump did ultimately issue pardons for a swath of political allies in his final days, including his former adviser Steve Bannon. But notable names weren’t on the list, including Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and all of Trump’s children.

In a defiant op-ed on Monday, Gaetz said he would “absolutely” not resign and once again rejected allegations he had paid for sex or, “as an adult man … slept with a 17-year-old.”

“Let me first remind everyone that I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal,” the lawmaker wrote in The Washington Examiner. “My personal life is and always has been conducted on my own time and my own dime. Consensual adult relationships are not illegal.”

During the Trump years, Gaetz’s political clout rose meteorically as he became one of the then-president’s most vocal defenders. After Trump lost the 2020 race, the Florida lawmaker touted conspiracy theories that the election was stolen via rampant voter fraud (there is no evidence to back up those claims) and baselessly suggested anti-fascist groups were behind the deadly Capitol riot.

Trump regularly praised Gaetz during his administration, singling him out as one of his most ardent supporters and predicting he would be “going places.”

For now, those days appear to be over. The Times added that Trump’s allies have been urging the former president to stay quiet and distance himself from Gaetz during the investigation.

Categories
Politics

Lynne Patton, Former Trump Aide And HUD Official, Barred From Federal Employment

Lynne Patton, a former Trump administration official, has been fined and barred from federal employment for four years after violating the Hatch Act, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced Tuesday. 

The investigative agency announced a settlement with Patton, who oversaw Housing and Urban Development in New York and New Jersey starting in 2017, and said she misused her office to help former President Donald Trump’s failed 2020 re-election effort. 

In 2019, as a regional head of HUD, Patton announced her plan to spend a month living in New York public housing. The Office of Special Counsel said she inappropriately used her position when she later recruited one of the residents she had met to find other residents who would say positive things about Trump for a video that would air at the Republican National Convention. 

“By using information and NYCHA connections available to her solely by virtue of her HUD position, Patton improperly harnessed the authority of her federal position to assist the Trump campaign in violation of the Hatch Act,” the office said in a press release.

Lynne Patton in January 2019 in New York City. 



Lynne Patton in January 2019 in New York City. 

In addition to her four-year ban from federal employment, Patton will pay a $1,000 fine. The announcement will likely provoke discussions about other potential Hatch Act violators, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway, advisers who frequently made political statements while serving in their official roles.

Patton’s powerful role in HUD was widely criticized from the moment Trump appointed her. Patton, like former HUD Secretary Ben Carson, had no experience in housing policy before Trump picked her to lead Region 2, the densely populated region including New York and New Jersey. Prior to working in HUD, where she briefly worked as the secretary’s adviser, Patton was an aide to the Trump family and the former president’s son, Eric Trump. 

In 2019, during her brief stay in New York public housing, many residents and co-tenants viewed the stint as a publicity stunt. Patton openly condemned public housing conditions and blamed them entirely on officials in New York City, who were frequent targets of the former president. In reality, experts have said continued cuts to HUD are responsible for the lack of affordable, quality housing in the United States. Trump proposed slashing billions of dollars from HUD’s budget in his 2021 fiscal plan made public last year. 

In 2019, Patton controversially claimed she’d been given clearance from “the Trump family” to participate in a reality show while working as a high-ranking HUD official.

Categories
Politics

Matt Gaetz Reportedly Sought Blanket Pardon From Trump In Final Days Of Administration

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) reportedly asked that former President Donald Trump grant him a blanket, preemptive pardon during the final days of Trump’s administration, The New York Times reported Tuesday. 

The publication, citing people familiar with the discussions, said the firebrand lawmaker privately asked the White House for clemency for himself and other, unnamed allies for any crimes they may have committed. The idea didn’t gain any ground with White House lawyers, however, and it’s unclear if Gaetz spoke of the pardons directly with Trump. 

The reports add new complexity to news that Gaetz is under investigation for alleged sex trafficking and allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. The congressman, a staunch ally and vocal defender of Trump, also faced allegations last week that he had shown colleagues photos of naked women he claimed to have slept with.

Gaetz has rejected those claims. His office did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Donald Trump with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).



Donald Trump with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

The Times hadn’t determined if the White House or Gaetz knew about the investigation prior to Gaetz’s request (the lawmaker had publicly called for broad pardons for Trump allies, warning of “bloodlust” from the left). The publication added, however, that some Trump allies have wondered if Gaetz’s public calls were an attempt to mask his own political vulnerabilities.

Trump did ultimately issue pardons for a swath of political allies in his final days, including his former adviser Steve Bannon. But notable names weren’t on the list, including Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and all of Trump’s children.

In a defiant op-ed on Monday, Gaetz said he would “absolutely” not resign and once again rejected allegations he had paid for sex or, “as an adult man … slept with a 17-year-old.”

“Let me first remind everyone that I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal,” the lawmaker wrote in The Washington Examiner. “My personal life is and always has been conducted on my own time and my own dime. Consensual adult relationships are not illegal.”

During the Trump years, Gaetz’s political clout rose meteorically as he became one of the then-president’s most vocal defenders. After Trump lost the 2020 race, the Florida lawmaker touted conspiracy theories that the election was stolen via rampant voter fraud (there is no evidence to back up those claims) and baselessly suggested anti-fascist groups were behind the deadly Capitol riot.

Trump regularly praised Gaetz during his administration, singling him out as one of his most ardent supporters and predicting he would be “going places.”

For now, those days appear to be over. The Times added that Trump’s allies have been urging the former president to stay quiet and distance himself from Gaetz during the investigation.

Categories
Politics

Matt Gaetz Reportedly Sought Blanket Pardon From Trump In Final Days Of Administration

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) reportedly asked that former President Donald Trump grant him a blanket, preemptive pardon during the final days of Trump’s administration, The New York Times reported Tuesday. 

The publication, citing people familiar with the discussions, said the firebrand lawmaker privately asked the White House for clemency for himself and other, unnamed allies for any crimes they may have committed. The idea didn’t gain any ground with White House lawyers, however, and it’s unclear if Gaetz spoke of the pardons directly with Trump. 

The reports add new complexity to news that Gaetz is under investigation for alleged sex trafficking and allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. The congressman, a staunch ally and vocal defender of Trump, also faced allegations last week that he had shown colleagues photos of naked women he claimed to have slept with.

Gaetz has rejected those claims. His office did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Donald Trump with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).



Donald Trump with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

The Times hadn’t determined if the White House or Gaetz knew about the investigation prior to Gaetz’s request (the lawmaker had publicly called for broad pardons for Trump allies, warning of “bloodlust” from the left). The publication added, however, that some Trump allies have wondered if Gaetz’s public calls were an attempt to mask his own political vulnerabilities.

Trump did ultimately issue pardons for a swath of political allies in his final days, including his former adviser Steve Bannon. But notable names weren’t on the list, including Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and all of Trump’s children.

In a defiant op-ed on Monday, Gaetz said he would “absolutely” not resign and once again rejected allegations he had paid for sex or, “as an adult man … slept with a 17-year-old.”

“Let me first remind everyone that I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal,” the lawmaker wrote in The Washington Examiner. “My personal life is and always has been conducted on my own time and my own dime. Consensual adult relationships are not illegal.”

During the Trump years, Gaetz’s political clout rose meteorically as he became one of the then-president’s most vocal defenders. After Trump lost the 2020 race, the Florida lawmaker touted conspiracy theories that the election was stolen via rampant voter fraud (there is no evidence to back up those claims) and baselessly suggested anti-fascist groups were behind the deadly Capitol riot.

Trump regularly praised Gaetz during his administration, singling him out as one of his most ardent supporters and predicting he would be “going places.”

For now, those days appear to be over. The Times added that Trump’s allies have been urging the former president to stay quiet and distance himself from Gaetz during the investigation.

Categories
Politics

Voters treated like mushrooms as government projects breezy vaccine optimism

Morrison government’s optimism hiding the truth about vaccine rollout problems.

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine coronavirusPfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine coronavirus
(Image: AP/Esteban Felix)

The Australian Government is caught in a war of words with the European Union about vaccine delivery amid rising frustration at home about our slow, messy rollout. Scott Morrison blames Europe for blocking shipments. Europe says it’s doing no such thing. Regardless of who’s right, the latest roadblock points to a problem that’s hindered our vaccine rollout from the very start. Since last year, the government has tried to project breezy optimism about the state of the rollout, often at the cost of providing crucial details to the Australian people, left sitting in the dark being fed bullshit.

August 2020: the deal that wasn’t

Prime Minister Scott Morrison triumphantly announces Australia’s vaccine “deal” with AstraZeneca. Within hours, however, the company points out the “deal” is actually a letter of intent, with many of the crucial details yet to be finalised. Other countries, like the United Kingdom, had signed similar letters of intent months earlier. 

The slow process

By the start of the year, it became apparent that Australia was taking longer to get its rollout under way than many comparable countries. The official line was that we were going slow to keep safe — since COVID-19 wasn’t running amok, the Therapeutic Goods Administration could consider vaccines slowly and not authorise for emergency use.

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Politics

The cautionary tale of Fiona Scott, a Liberal woman hamstrung at the outset by her own PM

Fiona Scott’s story represents, at the very least, a clear calling out of sexist behaviour by some sections of the Liberal party in 2017.

A photoshopped image of Fiona Scott and Tony Abbott that circulated in 2013 (Image: Provided)

Fiona Scott had a sinking feeling the moment then Liberal leader Tony Abbott opened his mouth and described her as having “a little sex appeal” during the 2013 federal election campaign.

“I was in a bit of shock and I went home and I thought ‘this is going to really hurt tomorrow’,” Scott recalled. And it did. The “sex appeal” label made her life a misery on the campaign trail. “It served to frame me in a way that gave people open slather to talk about my looks,” she told Crikey. Punters threw the word back at her. But that was just the beginning.

After winning her western Sydney seat in the 2013 Abbott-slide and heading to Canberra, Scott found the label had stuck within the party and the parliament. “I was starting a long way back because of predisposed views,” she reflected.

She recalls in particular the time Queensland LNP member Scott Buchholz ruled her out of having a spot on the powerful House of Representatives economics committee because she wasn’t one of “the big boys” who had PhDs and masters in economics, she says.

Scott recall Buchholz seemed unaware that she held an MBA and had a love of economic policy.

Scott lasted one term and was out in the Turnbull election of 2016.

Within a year, still raw from the ordeal, the departed MP spoke candidly of the “sex appeal” episode on Sky News, where she became a commentator. She told the Buchholz story but she cautioned then and now that the Liberal man problem was not the only factor.

The “elite left”, as she calls them, had magnified her problems by creating an altered version of a widely published photo of Abbott standing next to Scott. The makers of the image had given Scott enlarged breasts — “a boob job that would have cost $20,000 if it was real”, she recalls — and had photoshopped Abbott’s head such that he no longer looked at her face but peered deep into her (false) cleavage. The image went crazy. And it hurt Scott deeply.

“What I find objectionable is that this was a photo where a woman was objectified. I didn’t ask to be objectified. My family had to see it. And it was retweeted by people who consider themselves progressives and feminists just to get Tony Abbott,” she told Crikey. Later, she would also have to hear former Labor leader Mark Latham on radio deride her by saying you needed “the beer goggles on” to think Scott had “sex appeal”. The episode has echoes of the campaign trail abuse suffered by South Australia Liberal MP Nicolle Flint, who has decided to quit politics altogether.

The issues confronting the Morrison government, Scott believes, are not confined to the Liberal party. “It’s far broader than that, and the opportunity for parliament is to take the leadership position to guide Australia to the culture and society that we want.”

Fiona Scott’s story represents, at the very least, a clear calling out of sexist behaviour by some sections of the Liberal party in 2017. It is also significant that Scott is prepared to speak about it publicly despite holding a board appointment at the National Film and Sound Archive, courtesy of then Arts Minister Mitch Fifield.

The role comes with a $22,000 annual fee — a relatively low amount compared to some other appointments. Scott acknowledges the perception that the appointment might hold her back from being critical of the government. But she told Crikey that she felt free to speak on the treatment of women and would do so.

Her final verdict? “I don’t want to see a talented generation of women not go into politics because of what they see happen to people like me and Nicolle Flint.”

Peter FrayPeter Fray

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Politics

Another day, another secretive handout to consultants. McKinsey’s good fortune grows as Australia’s vaccine woes worsen

The blue-chip consulting firm has secured millions for advice on all things vaccine.

(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

As Australia endures one of the slowest vaccine rollouts in the world, blue-chip consulting firm McKinsey’s good fortune continues to grow.

The company has now doubled its lucrative contract with the Department of Health, up $1.4 million to $3 million, for an additional month’s worth of advice. The current contract is set to run until April 30.

And it’s not just the health department that is desperately seeking McKinsey’s advice on all things vaccine.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has also handed it a lucrative $2.4 million contract to advise on “maximising economic and social opportunities” as the vaccine rollout progresses. That contract runs for 12 weeks.

‘Policy advice’

McKinsey was forced to pay nearly US$600 million in February to settle investigations into its role in helping “turbocharge” opioid sales in the US. It is also in the firing line over its role in the botched vaccine rollout in France, making questions about its work here even more pertinent — particularly with the PM&C now seeking its advice.

And while departments regularly outsource work to the private sector, it’s unclear why the PM&C would be hiring McKinsey for work on the rollout, given most of that work has been done through the Department of Health.

Details of the contract are muddy. According to the AFR, McKinsey will “provide research and analysis, project management, strategic policy advice and communications products” to the department. The department declined to elaborate any further to Crikey, saying it had contracted McKinsey to provide short-term support for a major government priority.

“PM&C’s role has always been to work closely with agencies across the Australian public service to coordinate advice to the Prime Minister and Cabinet,” it said.

Multinational consulting firms are making millions from Australia’s botched vaccine rollout but the details of their work have been shrouded in secrecy thanks to a long-standing tradition of outsourcing work to the private sector. But the critical nature of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, now described as an “unmitigated disaster” by some experts, has put their role in the spotlight.

PwC, which in December was declared by Health Minister Greg Hunt as Australia’s “lead partner” in the rollout, will not even confirm whether it is still involved in the rollout. The consulting firm has refused to give any details about its work, saying it doesn’t comment on “client matters”. The health department has also refused to clarify whether PwC is still involved in the rollout.

A spokesperson for McKinsey Australia said the company was unable to comment specifically on its engagement with PM&C and directed questions to the department’s media team. The spokesperson also declined to comment on why the contract with the Department of Health was extended for another month.

Peter FrayPeter Fray

Help us keep up the fight

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and support our journalists’ important work of uncovering the hypocrisies that infest our corridors of power.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today to get your first 12 weeks for $12 and get the journalism you need to navigate the spin.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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