President Obama is considering Chicago mogul and longtime friend Penny Pritzker as his nominee for Commerce secretary. Here's what you need to know about her:
1) She's a longtime supporter of the president. Pritzker, 53, first met President Obama and his wife, Michelle, at a Chicago YMCA in the early 1990s while her children were playing basketball and Michelle Obama's brother, Craig Robinson, was coaching. Since then, she has been an important supporter and has helped raise millions of dollars for his political campaigns since he ran for the Senate in 2004. During Obama's 2008 White House run, Pritzker served as the national chairwoman of his campaign finance team, which shattered fundraising records. Although she wasn't as active in the 2012 reelection effort, she was a top bundler, bringing in more than $500,000. She also served on the two White House economic advisory panels during Obama's first term.
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2) She was a contender for Commerce secretary before. After Obama won the presidential election in 2008, Pritzker was looked at as a possible nominee for Commerce secretary. She took her name out of consideration because of financial obligations to her family. In recent years, the Pritzker family has made headlines for internal disputes over the $19 billion fortune split among 11 cousins, which was just resolved in 2011. Pritzker was still involved in this dispute in 2008, which prevented her for taking a Cabinet position in the Obama administration. When she announced that she was taking her name out of consideration, she saidshe could "best serve our nation in my current capacity: building businesses, creating jobs, and working to strengthen our economy."
Even if she got the nod for the position, she might have had a difficult confirmation process. She helped oversee and run a bank in Illinois that was involved in the controversial practice of turning subprime mortgage loans into securities. After the bank collapsed in 2001, the Pritzker family agreed to pay the federal government $460 million over 15 years in fines. Obama ultimately picked Gary Locke as his first Commerce secretary but Locke left the job after two years to become the U.S. ambassador to China. His replacement, John Bryson, was involved in a hit-and-run accident in June 2012 that was linked to a seizure. He later resigned, citing health concerns.