Billionairess Pritzker To Obama: Thanks, But Pass

Smart lady, Penny Pritzker. Obama’s national finance chair and the most successful national finance chair ever. 

Rich one, too. She’s a billionairess from the Hyatt hotel empire which her family still runs. 

But she’s passing on the commerce secretary candidacy.

Clearly she didn’t want to deal with the press attacks—not to mention the confirmation challenges. The right wing blogs were licking their chops at the idea of her.

Washington Independent: The Chicago-Sun Times reported in April that Pritzker was a former chair of the board of Chicago’s Superior Bank, which failed in 2001 after making large amounts of sub-prime loans. While Pritzker stepped down as chairwoman in 1994, she remained on the board of the bank’s holding company.

[A] letter obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times shows that until the end, Pritzker appeared to be taking a leadership role in trying to revive the bank with an expanded push into subprime loans.

Pritzker wrote in May 2001 that her family was recapitalizing the bank, and she pledged to “once again restore Superior’s leadership position in subprime lending.” The bank shut down in July 2001.

According to The Sun-Times, the Obama campaign said Superior did not pursue the predatory sub-prime loans at the heart of the current financial crisis. But given the likely state of the economy when Obama takes office in January, having to explain away a cabinet nominee’s connection to the sub-prime debacle is not exactly the way Obama would like to begin his presidency.

Coupled with Pritzker’s prominence as a campaign fund-raiser, her appointment seems to have the potential to scuff the new administration’s shiny change facade.


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