A high-level State Department staffer has resigned after facing allegations that she embellished her resume, Politico reported on Monday.
Mina Chang, who served as the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stability Operations, came under scrutiny last week after NBC News reported that she had misrepresented her academic credentials and created a fake Time magazine cover with her face on it.
“Resigning is the only acceptable moral and ethical option for me at this time,” Chang wrote in her resignation letter, obtained by Politico.
She continued: “In already difficult times, the Department of State is experiencing what I and many believe is the worst and most profound moral crisis confronting career professionals and political appointees in the Department’s history. Department morale is at its lowest, the professionalism and collegiality ― once a hallmark of the U.S. diplomatic service ― has all but disappeared.”
Chang, who joined the State Department in April, appeared to be taking aim at the department’s leaders, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have been criticized for not doing enough to protect career diplomats amid the House impeachment investigation.
In her letter, Chang also accused her superiors at the department of failing to defend her in the face of the NBC report.
“A character assassination based solely on innuendo was launched against me attacking my credentials and character,” she wrote. “My superiors at the Department refused to defend me, stand up for the truth or allow me to answer the false charges against me.”
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to NBC, Chang identified herself as an “alumna” of Harvard Business School in her official biography. But she only attended a seven-week course at the institution in 2016 and did not earn a degree from the university.
A spokesperson for Harvard Business School told NBC that the school grants “alumni status” to those who have attended certain executive education programs, even if they did not earn a degree there.
Chang also claimed to have addressed both the Democratic and Republican national conventions in 2016, when in fact she spoke at separate events not sponsored by the conventions.
The fake Time magazine cover appeared during a 2017 interview with a YouTube host on the topic of countering violent extremism. Chang was then the chief executive of a nonprofit called Linking the World.
“Here you are on Time magazine, congratulations! Tell me about this cover and how it came to be?” the interviewer asked.
“Well, we started using drone technology in disaster response and so that was when the whole talk of how is technology being used to save lives in disaster response scenarios ― I suppose I brought some attention to that,” Chang said.
The interviewer told NBC that Chang brought the cover to the interview among a number of photos that were shown during their discussion.
Chang has denied the NBC report, saying she did not misrepresent her credentials and claiming someone else created the Time cover without her knowledge.
Chang had been nominated for a position at the U.S. Agency for International Development, where she would have overseen a budget of more than $1 billion. Her nomination was withdrawn in early September without public explanation. According to NBC, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations had asked her for more documents and details regarding her work experience.