Obama Administration

Commerce Nominee Tainted by Subprime Mortgage Losses

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A 61-page report carrying the seal of the Treasury's inspector general offers a tutorial for Republican senators interested in challenging Penny Pritzker's commerce secretary nomination.

The document chronicles the 2001 failure of a suburban Chicago bank after Pritzker and her family expanded subprime lending there and did pioneering work with the kind of mortgage-backed securitization that would eventually spread and help spark the worst recession since the Great Depression.

When it closed, Superior was one of the nation's largest bank failures in a decade. It remains the biggest business-record blemish for a woman who has developed a skyscraper, started a luxury senior housing enterprise and been chairwoman for a credit reporting company.

"She's got more than 25 years of management experience in industries, including real estate, finance, and hospitality," President Barack Obama said on May 2 as he announced her nomination. He didn't specify her work in banking.