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Penny Pritzker, Obama's finance chair, said to be Commerce choice

November 19, 2008 |  8:02 pm

CNN, quoting "multiple sources," is reporting this evening that Penny Pritzker is the top choice of President-elect Barack Obama to become his secretary of Commerce.

Penny Pritzker billionaire heiress of Hyatt hotel chain national finance chair of president-elect Barack Obama's campaign said to be his top choice for Secretary of Commerce

The 49-year-old billionaire was national finance chair of Obama's record-breaking presidential campaign that raised in the neighborhood of $640 million.

CNN also reported that Obama would select Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano to head the Department of Homeland Security.

To view a news video on the ongoing formation of the Obama Cabinet, click on the "Read more" line below.

As The Ticket reported recently, Pritzker donated $37,300 to various Obama fundraising accounts this cycle and was named a member of his Transition Economic Advisory Board.

She is an heir of the Pritzker family of Chicago that founded the Hyatt chain of hotels. Her brother, Jay Robert "J.B." Pritzker, was a national finance chair for Obama's New York rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, and is listed among the top 150 richest Americans.

Penny Pritzker is currently chairwoman of Classic Residence by Hyatt and is listed as among the wealthiest 140 Americans, with an estimated fortune of nearly $3 billion.

If she is Obama's choice to run the Commerce Department, Pritzker is likely to undergo some questioning during Senate confirmation hearings about her role as onetime chairwoman of Chicago's Superior Bank, which went under due to a significant number of the kind of subprime loans that Obama so often denounced on the campaign trail this year.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Hyatt Hotels

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