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Senators Swoon Over Billionaire Pritzker

By       Message William Boardman     Permalink
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"Congress could finally make public one of the grandest and most successful family tax-avoidance schemes ever--one that exposed some pretty significant blind spots in the laws that govern family trusts. Congress should ask some probing questions. Pritzker's first act as a public servant could be to answer them frankly.  A.N. Pritzker set up the family's first offshore trusts 50 years ago when Penny Pritzker, now 54, was only four. It's clear some of the family's ploys wouldn't be allowed today. But a full explanation of what's been done might illuminate loopholes that remain." 


None of the Senate committee members asked Pritzker hard questions about the family's tax havens or what she had done to earn that $53 million.  In response to limited Senatorial inquiry from Thune, Pritzker got off with saying, "Senator, I am the beneficiary of off-shore family trusts that were set up when I was a little girl.  I didn't create them, I don't direct them, I don't control them. I have asked the trustee to remove themselves and appoint a U.S. trustee."   


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Senator Claire McCaskil, a Missouri Democrat, ignored the long-abandoned tradition of wealthy people serving their government for a token $1 a year.  Instead the Senator gushed to Pritzker, who will earn $197,000 a year as Commerce Secretary:  "It's pretty obvious you're not coming to this job for a paycheck. You are coming because you desire to serve this country."


Harvard Paper Applauds Pritzker for Giving Back to the Community 

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In 2006, the Harvard Crimson (Pritzker is on the Harvard Board of Overseers) ran a flattering profile of Pritzker noting:  "Having founded five businesses during her career, Pritzker, along with her family, has continued to give back to the community".  Pritzker says she and her husband, Bryan S. Traubert, are interested in the welfare of children." 


The Crimson quotes Pritzker as saying:  "I believe the availability of quality public education is the foundation of our democracy. This is something we are extremely passionate about and we have gotten involved with in our community, both with the reform of the Chicago Public School system and the charter school movement." 


As a member of the Chicago Board of Education for two years, until March 14, 2013, she exercised little apparent leadership and was not seen as an advocate for the welfare of students or teachers.  Her gifts to the schools have mostly been for athletics and athletic fields.  She has been a reliable supporter of Mayor Rahm Immanuel, telling him in her resignation letter:  "Education is critical to ensuring every child has an opportunity to succeed, and I wholeheartedly support the work that you are doing to improve Chicago schools." 

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Closing Schools Keeps them From Getting Any Worse


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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)

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