Who is Penny Pritzker?
Obama’s possible pick for Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker, will not seem to get a whole lot of love from many in working class.
By all accounts Penny Pritzker is an extremely successful businesswoman. She, along with her three cousins, owns and manages their family’s fortune, which includes Hyatt hotels, casinos and other ventures. She is also the co-founder and partial owner of a chain of luxury retirement communities, an airport parking company, a realty group and the credit-rating agency TransUnion.
Although she looks perfect on paper, there are many problems could prevent her from being the next Secretary of Commerce.
She and her secretive family have been caught up in some pretty deceitful commercial ventures, including evading taxes. According to a Daily Koss report published in March 2012, “Pritzkers dodge all their taxes — not just the federal ones… UNITE- HERE and Crain’s Chicago Business report how Penny dodges local property taxes (and tries to hide it.)”
She also had dealings in banking industry. In 2001, the federal government fined her and her family $460 million for running a bank that specialized in subprime mortgages that practiced predatory and deceptive tactics.
Pritzker’s venture Superior Bank was one of the first to fail during the 2008 financial meltdown. Bank’s depositors lost millions of dollars and the US taxpayers lost nearly half a billion dollars.
Acording to The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), a US federal agency under the Department of the Treasury that supervises and regulates all federally chartered and state-chartered savings banks and savings and loans associations:
“Superior Bank suffered as a result of its former high-risk business strategy, which was focused on the generation of significant volumes of subprime mortgage and automobile loans for securitization and sale in the secondary market. OTS found that the bank also suffered from poor lending practices, improper record keeping and accounting, and ineffective board and management supervision.” 
Pritzker has been a friend to Obamas since the President’s early days as a state senator in Illinois. She is claimed to be the person who introduced then senator Obama to Robert Rubin, former Secretary of the Treasury, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and co-chairman of Citibank.
Mr. Rubin is well connected with the Wall Street and has helped Obama to receive unprecedented amount of campaign fundraising dollars from the Wall Street donors in 2008 election.
In return, Obama has appointed Ms. Pritzker to the President’s Council for Jobs and Competitiveness which advises the Administration on economic growth and job creation. Pritzker also served on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. She was National Finance Chair of the 2008 Barack Obama for President Campaign and co-chair of the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Pritzker is also a member of the Chicago School Board, appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in May 2011. Her children attended the University of Chicago Lab School, a well known private school which President Obama ‘s daughters also attended.
As a board member, she has been heavily criticized by her role in the union busting privatization policies of Rahm Emanuel’s appointed Chief Executive Officer, Jean-Claude Brizard.
In June 2011, education reporter Linda Lutton has conducted an interview with Penny Pritzker on WBEZ public radio and her answers have created a firestorm among the Chicago public school parents, one particular, Matt Farmer.
Farmer, a Chicago lawyer currently serving a two-year term as a member of the Local School Council at Philip Rogers Elementary School, had a fiery speech exposing the hypocrisy of the board members’ rhetoric while they send their children to expensive private schools, at the Chicago Teacher Union STAND STRONG rally on May 23, 2012.
Obama administration is staying quiet on the matter. A senior administration official said no announcement is imminent and that Obama has made no decision. But if Mrs. Pritzker is still being considered as Commerce Secretary or another senior position involving relations between Obama and business leaders, it would be wise for the administration to reconsider, because with this much dirty laundry on Penny Pritzker, those confirmation hearings will be a battleground.
Image Credit: www.govexec.com