2014 readers choice results
Article updated: 2/6/2013 6:16 PM

Obama said close to choosing Pritzker for Commerce Secretary

This combination of file photos shows from left: Penny Pritzker, a long-time Obama ally and big-money fundraiser from Chicago; Tom Perez, the assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights and former secretary of Marylandís Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; and John Berry, the current director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and a former senior official at the Interior Department. He is the highest ranking openly gay official in the government. The three have been speculated as potential replacements for cabinet positions in the Obama administration. Obama is said to be looking at women, Latinos and openly gay candidates for top slots at the departments of Commerce, Labor and Interior, and for his own White House budget office.

This combination of file photos shows from left: Penny Pritzker, a long-time Obama ally and big-money fundraiser from Chicago; Tom Perez, the assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights and former secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; and John Berry, the current director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and a former senior official at the Interior Department. He is the highest ranking openly gay official in the government. The three have been speculated as potential replacements for cabinet positions in the Obama administration. Obama is said to be looking at women, Latinos and openly gay candidates for top slots at the departments of Commerce, Labor and Interior, and for his own White House budget office.

 

Associated Press

 1 of 1 
 
text size: AAA
By Bloomberg News

President Barack Obama is close to choosing Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker, who led fundraising for his 2008 campaign, as his next commerce secretary, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Pritzker, whose family built the Hyatt Hotels Corp. chain, would replace acting commerce secretary Rebecca Blank, an economist who took over for John Bryson after he resigned last June for health reasons.

Advertisement

Selecting Pritzker, 53, would ensure that one of Obama's original Chicago supporters would have a voice in shaping his second term, said two of the people, who requested anonymity to discuss personnel decisions. The president hasn't made a final decision, said a third person, who also requested anonymity.

A White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, declined to comment on Pritzker's potential nomination. Pritzker's spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

After facing criticism for picking men to lead the State, Treasury and Defense Departments, Obama has announced the appointment of two women for key positions. Today, he selected Sally Jewell, chief executive officer of Recreational Equipment Inc., to be secretary of the Interior Department. Last month, he named Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney for Manhattan, as his choice to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Like Jewell, Pritzker would bring a business background to the administration, helping Obama fulfill what he has said is a goal to add private sector experience in his Cabinet.

The Chicago businesswoman has developed a skyscraper in her hometown, worked as president of a commercial real estate and luxury senior housing company, and served as chairwoman for a credit-reporting company.

Obama Connections

Shortly after Obama's election in 2008, Pritzker's name circulated as his first choice for commerce secretary. She issued a statement in late November of that year that made clear she didn't want the job then.

Although she and members of her family are prominent philanthropists in Chicago, they're also publicity shy about their business dealings, including the 2001 collapse of a suburban Chicago bank that they co-owned.

White House officials had discussed the commerce job with Xerox Corp. Chief Executive Officer Ursula Burns, who told them she wasn't interested, according to people familiar with the matter.

Pritzker has known Obama since long before he rose to national prominence. She met him in the mid-1990s on a YMCA basketball court in Chicago, where Obama's brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, coached one of her children's teams. Marty Nesbitt, a close Obama friend and Pritzker business partner, also had a child on the team.

The Obama family would soon start making visits to the Pritzker summer home in Michigan. It was there that Obama first mentioned in 2002 that he was thinking of running for the U.S. Senate in 2004 and wanted her support.

Pritzker, who has a law degree and MBA from Stanford, is a prolific fundraiser for Democratic candidates in Illinois and elsewhere.

Comments ()
We are now using Facebook comments to offer a more inclusive, social and constructive discussion. Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.

This article filed under

Business Video
Area Business Calendar

BusinessDirectory

Connect with a business or service in your area fast. First select a town, then enter a search term or choose one of the listed popular searches:

Don't see your town listed? Visit our full directory to begin your search.

MostViewed

Today
Yesterday
Most Commented
Top Jobs

    View all Top Jobs Place a job ad

    DHExtras

       
    • Newspaper next section - Newspaper next section Report card checker - report card checker
    • Dh innovation award 2 - Dh innovation award 2 Zillow /real estate page
    • Discuss refer On Guard series
    • Newspaper archives -- Monday or anyday Mike North

    FacebookActivity