- Associated Press - Monday, June 26, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) - A longtime Donald Trump ally named chief of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s regional office in New York and New Jersey is defending her qualifications.

The agency announced Monday that Lynne Patton, who served as a personal assistant to Trump’s son Eric Trump, had been named to the post. She initially joined HUD last winter as a senior adviser to the agency’s secretary, Ben Carson. Before that, she worked for Trump’s Republican presidential campaign.

Word of Patton’s likely appointment was first reported earlier this month by the Daily News . That brought a wave of criticism from Democrats who questioned whether she had the work experience necessary for the job. Before joining HUD, she had no experience in housing or urban development.

Much of Patton’s recent career was spent working for the Trump family, including organizing charity events for the Eric Trump Foundation.

In an interview with The New York Times , Patton said she thought her critics were merely trying to embarrass the Trump family.

“Had I represented a different administration, my narrative likely would have been that I rose through the rank and file in one of the most successful companies in the world from assistant to senior executive and was subsequently handpicked by the president of the United States,” she told the newspaper. “The misdirected discontent with my boss has prevented people from seeing the obvious fact that I am, more than anyone, best suited to serve as this liaison because, after all, I have a direct line to both the secretary and the president of the United States.”

HUD, in the news release announcing Patton’s appointment, said she “comes to HUD after nearly a decade of experience as a senior executive at a large non-profit in New York City.”

That didn’t match the resume information listed on Patton’s LinkedIn page or with public filings by the Eric J. Trump Foundation.

On her LinkedIn page, she lists herself as working as a vice president at the foundation from February 2011 to the present, a span of no more than six years, not nearly a decade.

The foundation, in its annual filings with the IRS, listed Patton in 2015 as an unpaid vice president who worked approximately one hour per week. The filings for 2014 and 2013 list her as an unpaid director volunteering one hour per week. She is not listed as being an executive, officer or key employee of the charity in 2012.

A HUD spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for an explanation.

Patton’s title on the Eric Trump Foundation’s website and her profile on the LinkedIn service were changed to “vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation” last year after The Associated Press questioned the campaign’s description of her as a Trump Organization executive.

At the time, the executive director of the foundation, Paige Scardigli, told the AP the charity’s IRS filings understated her role.

Patton’s resume on LinkedIn also misstated details about her education. She wrote on LinkedIn that she attended Quinnipiac University Law School from 1998 to 2000. The university says she attended the law school for just seven months in 2000 and did not receive a degree.

Patton has said she never claimed to have graduated from Quinnipiac, noting that her LinkedIn page carries the notation “N/A” next to the abbreviation for juris doctor to indicate she never earned the degree.

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Associated Press writers David B. Caruso and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

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