Lynne Patton, former aide to Eric Trump turned United States Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official, has followed the lead of President Donald Trump in using Twitter to bash people — especially journalists. Patton instigated a Twitter feud with veteran journalist April Ryan, calling her “Miss Piggy.”
The head of HUD’s New York and New Jersey office, who has no prior experience and oversees billions in federal funds, began her rant against Ryan on Sunday. She responded to a Twitter user’s post regarding a CNN segment where Ryan discusses having received death threats as a result of Trump’s discrediting the press.
Patton replied that she has allegedly received death threats herself from “minorities on the left” because she is a conservative, telling Ryan “welcome to the club.”
Ryan is the Washington Bureau chief and White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks and a CNN correspondent. She is one of the few women of color journalists with the credentials to attend daily press briefings at the White House. Trump is the fourth president she has covered.
Ryan asks questions of concern to the Black community, despite receiving pushback from an administration that has disrespected Black women, which apparently has set a precedent for Patton to do so, even though she is a Black woman herself.
After getting pushback for her statements, Patton said that people who defend Ryan and not the Trump administration are the “actual problem.”
Ryan got wind of Patton’s statement and re-tweeted her on Tuesday. In a reply on Wednesday, she called the journalist a “blogger working for a bankrupt outlet.”
Ryan then replied, sharply:
“I hear Miss Piggy’s still on a rampage. Gee, I must’ve struck a nerve, April Ryan!”
Ryan told Patton to “kick rocks” and “find a job.”
Patton wound up deleting her “Miss Piggy” tweet. But a social media user took a screenshot before she did.
Patton posted an apology on Twitter:
Thursday afternoon, Ryan said she does not accept the HUD official’s apology. “This is serious,” she told People. “This is not a joke.”
Lynne Patton’s Ties to Trump Family
Retired neurosurgeon and now HUD Secretary Ben Carson appointed Patton to her position in June with a salary of $161,900 per year to oversee all federal housing in New York and New Jersey — one of the largest regions under HUD. And, like Carson, Patton has no prior housing experience.
She is a longtime Trump family employee. Patton began working for Eric Trump in 2009 as the vice president of his foundation and his primary aide, planning events including his wedding.
“[Patton] 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,” according to The Washington Post. “Specifically, she worked for the Trump children, Donald Jr., Tiffany, Ivanka and Eric and his wife, Lara.”
Patton’s résumé also came into question when reviewed by American Oversight, formed by a group of attorneys following Trump’s inauguration to monitor the administration’s ethics.
“In addition to highlighting her career with the Trumps, Patton’s résumé raises questions about her education,” the Post reports. “Patton listed three schools under ‘education’ — Quinnipiac Law School, University of Miami and Yale University — with dates but no degrees.”
Patton’s hire was also under scrutiny as Trump is part-owner of the Brooklyn development, Starrett City, the nation’s largest publicly subsidized housing project. About 16 percent of the complex is owned by Trump and his siblings, including 4 percent owned by Trump himself via trust, according to the New York Daily News.
In July, Patton notified HUD that she would recuse herself from any involvement in the development. The owners of Starrett City reached an agreement in September to sell the property for $850 million.