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Trump nominee denies that he was trying to imply he had an Ivy League degree

President Trump's nominee to be a key banking regulator said through a spokesman Monday that he did not misrepresent that he had a degree from Dartmouth College, but simply used the wording on a certificate he earned from a four-week continuing education program held at the school.

“He’s not implying that he got a degree from Dartmouth College,” said Sig Rogich, a spokesman for Joseph Otting.

Otting, the former chief executive of Pasadena’s OneWest Bank, was nominated last week to be the comptroller of the currency. The job involves leading the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an independent bureau of the Treasury Department that oversees federally chartered banks.

A short biography of Otting put out by the White House said he “is a graduate of the School of Credit and Financial Management at Dartmouth College.”

The same wording was listed on a biography for a 2015 speech Otting gave at a conference hosted by the Hope Global Forums and in a 2014 announcement when he was elected as chairman of the California Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

Diana Lawrence, Dartmouth’s associate vice president for communications said on Saturday that “Joseph Otting is not a Dartmouth graduate, Dartmouth does not have a school of credit and financial management.”

Bloomberg News first reported that the program was not affiliated with Dartmouth.

The Graduate School of Credit and Financial Management is a continuing education program offered by the National Assn. of Credit Management in Columbia, Md. The program consists of a pair of two-week sessions in consecutive years and now is held at American University in Washington, D.C.

When Otting attended the program in 1992, it was held at Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School of Business Administration, according to a copy of his graduation certificate provided by Rogich.

“His resume reflects what’s included on the certificate and it clearly states ‘at Dartmouth College,’ ” Rogich said.

The White House does not believe Otting misrepresented himself, said White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom.

But the controversy over Otting’s affiliation with Dartmouth will not help his chances of being confirmed by the Senate, said Edward Mills, a financial policy research analyst with FBR Capital Markets & Co.

“I think the nomination went from probable to more questionable,” Mills said. “Democrats were already set to demonize and demagogue this pick. They just got more ammunition.”

Some Senate Democrats have raised concerns about OneWest’s foreclosure practices and a Justice Department announcement last month that Financial Freedom, a OneWest subsidiary, had agreed to pay $89 million to settle allegations that it defrauded the Federal Housing Administration regarding reverse mortgage insurance payments from March 31, 2011, to Aug. 31, 2016.

Otting ran OneWest from 2010 to 2015.

Twitter: @JimPuzzanghera

jim.puzzanghera@latimes.com

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