The person President Trump tapped this summer to oversee one of the largest regions under the Department of Housing & Urban Development is a longtime Trump family employee with no experience in housing, according to the one-page résumé Lynne Patton submitted as part of the transition.
Patton began working for Trump’s son Eric in 2009 as the vice president of his foundation and as his primary aide. She oversaw all aspects of his business, charity and personal obligations. That included his home and spousal responsibilities as well as coordinating events.
She was promoted in 2012 to be the Trump family’s senior aide and chief of staff, serving as the principal contact between the family members and all corporate partners, heads of state and high-end donors. Specifically, she worked for the Trump children, Donald Jr., Tiffany, Ivanka and Eric and his wife, Lara.
During Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Patton worked as his senior adviser and family liaison, focusing on minority engagement. She was also a prime-time speaker at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
In June, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, an acclaimed neurosurgeon with no expertise in housing policy either, charged Patton with running the agency’s regional office overseeing New York and New Jersey. Her appointment stirred controversy because of her lack of experience and the fact that Trump has a 4 percent stake in a Brooklyn development, Starrett City, that is the nation’s largest subsidized housing complex.
Patton is one of 10 regional administrators for HUD, an agency that has a $48.7 billion budget this year. Her position pays $161,900 a year.
“The administration prioritizes hiring family friends, employees and people who have expressed loyalty to the president, raising real questions about why the president wants her there,” said Austin Evers, a former State Department attorney under President Barack Obama who now heads the government watchdog group American Oversight. “This underscores that this administration does not prioritize qualifications at all, including for this very important job which oversees billions of dollars of taxpayer money.”
Patton told the Post in an email that as regional administrator, she serves as the primary liaison for local agencies and city officials as it pertains to housing issues before the Trump administration — a job she says she is uniquely positioned for given her long history as “gatekeeper” to the Trumps.
“I am not determining fixed-rate mortgage loan rates. Nor do I have any oversight or undue influence as to individual grant distribution or project funding,” Patton wrote.
Patton has officially recused herself from any decisions involving the Starrett City housing development, signing a "conflict of interest disqualification" memorandum on July 12.
American Oversight, formed by a group of lawyers after Trump’s inauguration to monitor the administration’s ethics and expose any potential conflicts of interest, obtained Patton’s official résumé through a Freedom of Information Act request of the résumés of political appointees across various federal agencies.
In addition to highlighting her career with the Trumps, Patton’s résumé raises questions about her education. Patton listed three schools under “education” — Quinnipiac Law School, University of Miami and Yale University — with dates but no degrees.
The New York Daily News, citing Patton’s LinkedIn profile, had accused her in June of exaggerating her credentials by listing Yale and a juris doctorate from Quinnipiac University School of Law in Connecticut next to the notation (N/A) — leaving the impression that she had graduated from both when she does not actually have a law degree.
“People who apply for and live in federal public housing are held to high standards for honesty and can be evicted for fraud,” Evers said. “If you are going to oversee a program like that, you should be held to at least the same standard.”
Patton told The Post that she never purported to have graduated from law school.
“I never claimed to have a degree,” Patton wrote. “Lots of people list schools they didn’t finish. It was helpful to my prior work as a white collar paralegal.”
Patton had previously told the New York Times that she had taken summer classes at Yale and attended Quinnipiac Law for two semesters before dropping out.
References to both schools were later removed from her LinkedIn page, leaving only a bachelor of arts in English literature and psychology from the University of Miami, where it says she attended from 1991 until 1995. Patton’s résumé, on the other hand, simply lists 1996 next to the name of the school.
Patton said she started her freshman year in 1991 and took a year off halfway through college. Asked about the discrepancy, Patton said she could not remember the exact year she graduated.
“We’re talking over 20 years ago, but I think it was 1996,” she wrote.
A University of Miami spokeswoman confirmed Friday that Patton graduated in 1996 as an English major. She also minored in sociology.
In a phone call with The Post Friday morning, Patton said she did not know that Quinnipiac Law School had been removed from her LinkedIn profile and said she planned to "fix it" by putting the school back in as soon as she got off the phone.
“I have nothing to hide. I'm not trying to correct anything because I didn't do anything wrong,” Patton said.
Asked if she would put Yale back on her LinkedIn page, Patton said, “It's probably not necessary.”
Patton disputes critics who dismiss her qualifications. She noted that she began working directly for Carson in January as senior adviser and director of public engagement, briefing him on housing policy and spearheading his cross-country listening tour. She said she had been planning to take a job heading up the Office of Public Liaison at the White House, but opted for the HUD position because she wanted to “make a greater difference for urban and rural communities at an agency — particularly one helmed by my second favorite person in D.C.," referring to Carson.
“For the past decade, I have served in the capacity of advocate, public liaison and gatekeeper to one of the most powerful families in the world and their nonprofit,” Patton emailed the Post. “The president and Secretary Carson trust me implicitly to identify both initiatives and partnerships critical to advancing the Region II [New York and New Jersey] agenda at hand.”
She said her job is to convey “their priorities and concerns directly to the decision-makers in Washington.”
Olga Alvarez, a HUD spokeswoman, said that since Patton took on the job, she has “worked tirelessly on behalf of the affordable housing community in New York and New Jersey” and will soon unveil a 10-point plan of her priorities for the region.
Here is her résumé in full: