In 2008, Pritzker helped spearhead his fundraising operation, and in both that election and 2012′s, she was a major donor, according to OpenSecrets.org data. In 2008, Pritzker personally gave $63,500 to the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and in 2012 she gave $117,400 (the Obama campaign could accept only $5,000 of that directly). The campaign also reported that Pritzker was a bundler — one of the group of elite supporters that tapped their personal and professional networks to harvest money for the candidate; Pritzker was in the top echelon, gathering at least $500,000 for Obama’s re-election bid.
She also donated $250,000 to his most recent inauguration.
So apparently a major qualification for Commerce Secretary is scoring at least a million to stick in Obama’s progressive war chest. Penny Pritzker was supposed to go in last time around, but maybe the cash deposits weren’t big enough or some of her business interests raised eyebrows.
Most notoriously, Pritzker headed up subprime lender Superior Bank. Even after it went under in 2001 and left 1,400 mostly poor and minority customers destitute, Pritzker was pushing to expand its toxic subprime loan business. As I’ve reported previously, Pritzker and her family escaped accountability by forking over a discounted $460 million settlement over 15 years after the bank collapsed.
To protect her family’s multibillion-dollar fortune, Pritzker’s enterprises park their money in the very same kind of offshore trusts Obama attacked GOP rival Mitt Romney over. But Obama lapped up nearly $800 million in campaign and inaugural funding raised by Pritzker. A former Pritzker tax lawyer pioneered tax-avoidance strategies for the family, which allowed them to pay $9 million in taxes instead of $150 million in estate taxes after patriarch A.N. Pritzker died.
Exempted from Obama’s poisonous class-warfare demagoguery, Pritzker also chaired Chicago’s failed Olympic Village Subcommittee while serving as president of Pritzker Realty Group, a top Illinois mega-developer that would have reaped untold millions in project work if then Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and the White House had secured the 2016 Olympic bid.
TIF schemes totaling hundreds of millions of tax dollars were at the heart of the Obama/Daley/Pritzker Chicago Olympics bid. And a huge franchise of Pritzker’s Hyatt Hotels Corp. was the beneficiary of a $5.2 million TIF subsidy approved by Chicago Dems last year. It’s part of a massive redevelopment project with the Obamas’ hometown University of Chicago that robs local schools to subsidize well-connected corporations.
While Obama’s magic charm couldn’t get Penny the Olympics and she had to forgo the Commerce Secretary job last time around, now fewer people are paying attention to minor issues like subprime loans or Iran. And on term 2, it’s Obama’s time to go for broke and begin pushing the most outrageous cabinet nominees through the process.
And just as a reminder of what Penny Pritzker and Obama stand for, here is a blast from the recent Chicago past.
But at least some of the 1,400 victims who are still owed money seven years after the bank failed say Pritzker is the wrong person for Obama to put in charge of the campaign’s finances when part of his campaign is about reforming the banking industry.
“They still owe me $113,000,” said Fran Sweet, 63, of Downers Grove, who deposited her $480,000 retirement account at Superior a month before it collapsed. “To the Pritzkers, this is nothing. They probably think, ‘Why pay her back?’ That’s nothing. But we’re all upset that someone who made these decisions could be in that position.”
Now, she’s going to be in a much bigger position.