If not for liberal Chicago hotel heiress Penny Pritzker, who relentlessly raised and bundled money for Barack Obama in 2008, Obama may not have had the financial resources to battle Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary en route to the presidency.
Four years later, though, Pritzker is not raising money for Obama, and The New York Times has a lengthy feature speculating on why this may be so, without touching upon the real reasons that would make Pritzker toxic to Obama in 2012 — Pritzker’s family’s failed bank received favorable treatment from the federal government and Pritzker uses offshore bank accounts that Obama has railed against in his campaign to destroy Mitt Romney.
According to the Times, Pritzker “has cut back on fund-raising and has told friends that she is intentionally doing less.”
The Times also notes that it may have been difficult for Pritzker to remain close friends with Obama because Labor leaders, who did not like Hyatt’s labor policies and Jewish leaders, who did not like Obama’s policies, engaged in what Obama’s Chief of Staff, Bill Daley called a “triple assault” on Pritzker.
But the two issues the Times briefly glances over in its story may be why Obama would not want to be associated with Pritzker during an election year.
First, the Times briefly gives mention in the article to a “a bank owned in part by her family” that “had been so mired in toxic subprime loans that the Pritzkers and other owners eventually paid a $460 million settlement to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.”
Pritzker’s bank, Superior Bank in Illinois, still owes $10 million to 1,400 former depositors, according to The Washington Times. Federal regulators said the bank failed “because of its aggressive strategy of making high-risk subprime loans to borrowers with troubled credit histories.”
In addition, Pritzker’s family received favorable treatment from the federal government in the settlement. The New York Times falsely reports that Pritzker paid a $460 million settlement when in fact the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) gave Pritzker a $144 million discount after the Pritzker family paid $316 of the $460 million early, as The Washington Times discovered through FOIA requests last month.
Second, The New York Times notes that Pritzker’s “nearly $2 billion fortune exploits a network of trusts, including some held offshore, to minimize tax liabilities.”
Because the Obama campaign is attacking Romney for his offshore bank accounts, a close association with Pritzker would make Obama seem hypocritical and help neuter his attacks on Romney.
The Times notes that Pritzker has not given to the Super PAC supporting Obama. Others in the business community are waiting for Pritzker’s lead.
Of course, there is symbolism here as well. Obama — even as he has railed against corporations and private equity — has relied upon the business community to back his campaigns. But his anti-business policies since becoming president may have turned many of Pritzker’s associates off to the point they do not want to donate money to fund a candidate whose policies would be against their business interests.
The New York Times describes Pritzker as “loyal but weary” and as someone who wants to win, which makes it seem as if Pritzker, if Obama needs more private donations to match Romney in the last months of the campaign, will eventually come off the sidelines in the waning moments of the 2012 campaign.
Of course, coming into the fundraising game toward the end of the campaign would shield Pritzker — and Obama — from sustained attacks and questions about her offshore accounts and the favorable treatment her family’s bank received from federal government.