‘I am not a Trump supporter’: NYC tenants say they weren’t told interviews were for RNC video

New Yorkers stand by their comments criticising Mayor Bill de Blasio and the state of city housing

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Saturday 29 August 2020 16:15
New York residents praise Trump over public housing efforts
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Three of the public housing tenants who appeared in a video played at the Republican National Convention this week have said they didn’t know the purpose of their on-camera interviews and that they do not support Donald Trump.

Four New York City residents were interviewed for four hours by Lynne Patton, the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development region that covers the city, and a Trump appointee.

They spoke about poor conditions in their buildings and blamed Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio in a two minute video that aired during Thursday’s convention programming.

However, when contacted by The New York Times, three of the group had no idea the video was for Thursday’s RNC event.

“I am not a Trump supporter,” said Claudia Perez, one of the tenants interviewed by Ms Patton. “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.”

While Ms Perez stands by the comments she made in the video regarding the New York City Housing Authority, she told the Times she is furious about being tricked into appearing in the RNC video.

After the interviews were conducted Ms Perez said they were told it was for the Republican Party, but no mention was made of the convention.

Ms Perez and two other tenants, Carmen Quinones and Manny Martinez, were emphatic that their comments in no way endorsed president Donald Trump. The fourth tenant, Judy Smith, supports the president and was pleased with the video, according to the Times.

Ms Quinones will be voting for Joe Biden and supports the Democratic Party with the exception of Mayor de Blasio, whom she blames for worsening conditions in the public housing authority.

She added that Ms Patton has been a strong advocate for the housing authority and that the video had brought their issues to the national stage.

As a federal employee Ms Patton is barred from using her taxpayer-funded position for political activities under the Hatch Act. The Trump campaign argues that she was acting in a personal capacity.

In a statement, Ms Patton said the tenants were aware of the purpose of the interviews and that the video had been cleared for Hatch Act violations by the White House.

Similarly, earlier in the week, two of the immigrants taking part in a naturalisation ceremony at the White House who appeared in an RNC video did not know it was filmed for the convention. In that case they told The Wall Street Journal that they did not mind having it shown as part of the event.

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