Obama and Penny Pritzker

Has the mask finally come off the Obama presidency? After a campaign in 2008 that won him Marketer of the Year in which Obama hurled progressive rhetoric while having Goldman Sachs as his biggest campaign contributor and then having a presidency marked by antagonism to progressive reforms, it seems Obama is finally dropping the hope and change act and giving away government offices to his financial benefactors.

President Obama plans to nominate Chicago business executive Penny Pritzker, a longtime political supporter and heavyweight fundraiser, as his new Commerce secretary this morning…

With a personal fortune estimated at $1.85 billion, Pritzker is listed by Forbes magazine among the 300 wealthiest Americans.

Clearly the 1% need more of a voice in government, especially 1%ers who have some issues with unions and proper banking practices.

Pritzker’s nomination could prove controversial. She is on the board of Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corp., which was founded by her wealthy family and has had rocky relations with labor unions, and she could face questions about the failure of a bank partly owned by her family

Pritzker, however, could draw fire from labor leaders. Hyatt has long battled Unite Here in Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere. And Pritzker, who served on the Chicago Board of Education until she resigned in March, has been harshly criticized by the Chicago Teachers Union. When she stepped down, a union official said she “has a long and storied history as an anti-labor and anti-worker kind of boss.”

She could also face scrutiny over the collapse of Superior Bank, which was co-owned by her family. The bank, based in Hinsdale, Ill., was involved in subprime mortgage lending, and its failure in 2001 stirred charges of fraud and mismanagement.

Who better to be the Commerce Secretary? Someone who is at odds with labor unions and has problems complying with bank regulations should really understand American commerce today.

Pritzker is supposed to have passed a thorough vetting process regarding problems in her business practices including questionable tax-deductions. We’ll see if it was thorough enough. What remains is the image of a Democratic president nominating one of the richest people in the country with a troubled business history in a time of historic poverty to a key economic post. The symbolism is almost as bad as the substance.