Senator Mark Kirk was “uncertain” about supporting Hyatt Hotel heiress and Obama campaign bundler Penny Pritzker for Commerce Secretary until a few days ago. Ahead of Thursday’s confirmation hearing, Kirk has announced he is joining his Illinois counterpart Dick Durbin in support of Pritzker’s nomination.
Kirk released the following statement regarding Pritzker’s ability to fill the Cabinet position:
“I support Penny Pritzker for Commerce Secretary and will introduce her alongside Senator Durbin at Thursday’s confirmation hearing. I believe that, based on her extensive experience in business, she will put jobs and economic growth first. I met with Ms. Pritzker and found her to be someone who is willing to take on special interests, and I am confident her successful private-sector record and close ties to the business community will be beneficial to all of Illinois.”
Some of Pritzker’s “extensive experience in business” entails the failure of her family’s subprime-lending Superior Bank, which has cost taxpayers $296 million and left over 1400 senior citizen, veterans, and “middle-class” depositors out more than $10 million.
Although Pritzker attempted to distance herself from this failure, after coming under scrutiny as President Obama’s campaign finance chairman in 2008, a letter obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, shows Pritzker played a major role in the bank’s operation up until the time it collapsed.
As for her willingness to “take on special interests,” investors in the Superior Bank were issued disbursements from the bank before depositors, and the Pritzker family came out ahead by an estimated $200 million after a “sweetheart” settlement deal from the FDIC.
After depositors’ lawsuit against the Pritzkers failed, Clint Krislov, the depositors’ attorney asked Pritzker for her family to cover their $10 million losses, however Pritzker, who is worth $1.8 billion, declined. Pritzker told the Wall Street Journal she was “proud” of how she and her family dealt with the matter of the bank’s failure.
Mark Kirk is set to announce Pritzker at her hearing this morning at 11:00 a.m. EDT.
Update: Kirk, while remarkably recovered from a severe stroke he suffered last year, still visibly appeared to be impaired and struggled to make it through a very brief introduction of Pritzker at this morning’s hearings. Kirk warned fellow Republicans, “I will be whipping each one of you on behalf of Penny Pritzker’s nomination.”