Oops! Obama’s commerce secretary nominee failed to report $80 million income

Penny Pritzker Sec Comm nom
Penny Pritzker

While clerical errors are common, $80 million seems like a big chunk to overlook when preparing a financial statement. But apparently that’s what happened to President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Commerce in preparation for her Senate Confirmation Hearing last Thursday.

In a generally friendly exchange the Senate Commerce Committee asked billionaire Penny Pritzker, Obama’s close friend and major fund raiser from Chicago, numerous questions about her fortune and her business dealings.

Pritzker, one of the richest women in America, answered questions about offshore trust accounts managed by a Canadian bank that are a large part of her fortune, which is estimated at $1.85 billion.

“I didn’t create them, I don’t direct them, I don’t control them, but I have complied with all of the disclosure obligations, etc., that have been required of me in this process,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker was also quizzed on how her family’s Hyatt hotel chain deals with organized labor. Members of the Unite Here hotel workers’ union were there to criticize the nomination, calling the Hyatt “the worst hotel employer in America” due to its treatment of workers and failure to reach a new labor contract.

Sen. John Thune, R-SD, asked Pritzker about Superior Bank, a Hinsdale savings and loan where she served as chair, that went bankrupt in 2001.

In response to the missing income, Pritzker’s lawyer, Robert Rizzi, said in a letter to a Commerce Department attorney that the income was not in original filings “because of a clerical error and through no fault of Ms. Pritzker.”

Despite the controversy, Thune reportedly commented informally to reporters that he did not see too many roadblocks to her nomination, and that he was satisfied with her answers about her role in the bank’s collapse and income from offshore trust investments.

Watch the ABC News report here.


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