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Penny Pritzker: Still unfit for Commerce secretary

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Saturday, May 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

President Obama thinks Americans either have a short memory or are stupid or both. Why else would he nominate Penny Pritzker to be the next Commerce secretary?

Five years ago, a newly elected Mr. Obama floated Ms. Pritzker as his top choice to head the Department of Commerce. The backlash was as swift as it was severe; he was forced to shoot down his own trial balloon.

Why? The heir to the Hyatt Hotels chain and Obama's national campaign finance chairwoman previously served as chairwoman of Superior Bank of Chicago, a leading subprime mortgage lender that left lots of folks holding lots of bags.

The FDIC seized Superior in 2001. Its 18 branches closed that July. Family Pritzker agreed to pay $460 million over 15 years to cover some of the losses. Penny Pritzker blamed accounting failures, auditing changes and a challenging economy for the mess while attempting to distance herself from personal involvement.

But the Chicago Tribune reported that as late as May 2001, Pritzker, in a letter, wrote that the family was working to recapitalize Superior and restore its “leadership in subprime lending.”

On Thursday, Obama nominated Pritzker to head Commerce, actually calling her “one of our country's most distinguished business leaders.” Good grief.

It was in July 2008 that then-Sen. Obama, defending her fundraising role in the campaign, said he and Pritzker “share certain core values about how to run organizations, and hopefully that will inform how we manage the government.”

Indeed, they do. And, sadly, it does. Penny Pritzker's nomination must be rejected.

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