Top Trump official resigned over White House plan to withhold disaster-relief funds from Puerto Rico: report

The deputy secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is resigning Thursday due to disagreements with members of the Trump administration regarding housing policy and the administration's efforts to prevent Puerto Rico from receiving money for disaster relief, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Pam Patenaude notified HUD Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonCarson defends transgender comments, hits media for 'mischaracterizations' Ben Carson's remarks during San Francisco visit spark backlash Democrats blast HUD for removing LGBT language from grant competition MORE of her planned departure last month and was expected to transition out of the role in January.

Patenaude, HUD's second in command, reportedly grew frustrated by the White House’s attempt to block federal relief money to the island following the devastation left by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

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According to the Post, Patenaude expressed concern in fall 2018 over the Trump administration’s attempt to block disaster-recovery money Congress appropriated for the island and states hit by hurricanes. Patenaude visited Puerto Rico a half-dozen times during her time in the role.

“I didn’t push back,” Patenaude told the Post, referring to Trump’s attempt to block relief funding. “I advocated for Puerto Rico and assured the White House that Puerto Rico had sufficient financial controls in place and had put together a thoughtful housing and economic development recovery plan.”

Carlos Mercader, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Washington, told the Post that Patenaude showed the "most commitment to Puerto Rico of any of the public officials inside the Trump administration.” Mercader joined Patenaude on several trips to the island.

Patenaude's departure comes as HUD faces criticism for not renewing hundreds of expired affordable-housing contracts prior to the beginning of the partial government shutdown, which entered its 26th day on Wednesday. The Post noted that not renewing such contracts jeopardizes property owners' budgets and low-income tenants' housing stability.

Patenaude announced her departure prior to the ongoing partial government shutdown.

She denied to the Post that conflicts in the administration played a role in her decision to leave.

"These jobs are all-consuming,” she said. “There are no ulterior motives. I’m not mad at the administration."