President Obama has officially named Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker, the finance chairman of his 2008 presidential campaign, as his next commerce secretary.
The announcement of the choice Thursday ends months of speculation about Pritzker’s likely nomination.
WND was first to report that Pritzker is a primary funder of the radical Media Matters for America activist group.
Other questions may be raised about Pritzker’s financial history, primarily her family’s ownership of a bank that was seized and shut down by the federal government in 2001 after it was accused of unsound financial activities and predatory lending practices.
Pritzker herself served as chairman of the failed bank, Superior Bank, from 1991-1994.
Last year, Media Matters found itself in hot water after the Daily Caller exposed the group’s purported illicit tactics, including compiling a de facto enemies list; announcing an all-out campaign of “guerrilla warfare and sabotage” aimed at the Fox News Channel; and seeking to investigate the personal lives of reporters and news personalities.
The information came amid reports White House staffers held regular meetings and even a weekly conference call with Media Matters
At the time, WND reported the Media Matters donor list included the Pritzker Family Foundation, which donated a total of $400,000 to the progressive attack group in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The family foundation is directed by Penny Pritzker.
The Pritzker family is best known for owning the Hyatt hotel chain and is considered to be one of America’s wealthiest families.
Pritzker is currently a member of Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
She served on the Obama administration’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which formulates and evaluates economic policy for the Obama administration.
In 1989, Pritzker’s family purchased a 50-percent stake in Illinois-based Superior Bank from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which had taken over the bank when it failed.
In 1993, with Pritzker as the chairman, the bank became a top lender in the subprime home mortgage market. In 1994, Pitzker moved to the board of Superior’s holding company, stepping down as chairman.
In 2001, with her family still in charge, the FDIC seized the bank with the Pritzker family reaching an agreement with regulators to pay $460 million. In 1994, Pitzker moved to the board of Superior’s holding company
On Sept. 11, 2001, Ellen Seidman, director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, told the Senate Banking Committee that Superior became critically undercapitalized largely due to incorrect accounting treatment and aggressive assumptions for valuing complicated financial instruments known as residuals.
The Pritzkers were roundly criticized for their role in Superior’s collapse.
The Wall Street Journal reported government investigators and consumer advocates contended that Superior engaged in “unsound financial activities and predatory lending practices.”
Besides serving as finance chairman for Obama, Pritzker was also listed among Obama’s super bundlers, having raised more than $200,000 for his 2008 campaign.
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott