During Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee on February 27, 2019, Representative Mark Meadows pointed to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Regional Administrator Lynne Patton, who was standing behind him, to defend President Trump from Cohen’s allegations of racism. Patton has a long history of work with the Trump family, working previously as Vice President of the Eric Trump Foundation and Senior Assistant to Eric, Ivanka, and Donald Trump, Jr.
CREW requested records about her appearance in congress, including communications between HUD and the committee, records of Patton’s travel to Washington D.C., and records of her leave.
Despite her status as a HUD official, Meadows said that Patton was there in her personal capacity and Patton claimed to have taken official leave. However, before to the hearing, Patton said she was in D.C. for HUD meetings. HUD employees were reportedly “confused” about her hearing appearance, as they “were expecting her to show up to work Wednesday.”
Patton’s appearance at the hearing generated extensive controversy, including accusations in the hearing that she served as a “prop” for Meadows. The requested records would shed light on whether HUD knew about or approved her appearance at the hearing, and if Patton’s claim that she was on official leave is true.
In May 2018, CREW filed a Hatch Act complaint against Patton for partisan activity on Twitter. Blurring the lines between partisan political activity and official government positions has become a pattern in the Trump administration, so there is significant public interest in whether this is yet another example of such behavior.