Barack Obama’s close friend and major fundraiser, Penny Pritzker, who has been nominated to be the new Secretary of Commerce, didn’t include more than $80 million in income in financial disclosures she filed last week. Pritzker, who is a billionaire, supposedly “inadvertently omitted” this tiny part of her fortune. Her lawyer, Robert Rizzi, wrote the Commerce Department on May 21 that the money was not included in the May 15 filings that were reviewed by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics “because of a clerical error and through no fault of Ms. Pritzker.”
Susan Anderson, Pritzker’s personal spokeswoman, said Prizker’s “financial advisors” discovered the mistake within the 184-page submission. The $80 million in income was derived from Pritzker being paid over ten years for consulting for more than 400 domestic trusts, which were being restructured because of an intergenerational family feud that split into 11 family lines. Some of the entities being fought over were the Marmon Corp., Hyatt Hotels, Union Tank Car, Conwood Company and the Hyatt Center office building in Chicago. Anderson said, “Pritzker provided advice on the restructuring, managing and in some cases, selling various trust assets.”
Although the GOP is not hostile to Pritzker, one factor that might check her advance is the failure of Superior Bank, a Hinsdale Savings and Loan that her family controlled. Pritzker tried to revive the bank with an expanded push into subprime loans. There were also some tax avoidance strategies that her trusts and business empire used that may be looked into.