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The hungry account executive: Part III

National Mortgage Professional
May 26, 2008

A sibling rivalry with deep industry connections and a presidential twist!Terry W. ClemansPenny Pritzker and Robert Jay "J. B." Pritzker With the Republican Presidential Primary over, John McCain watches his Democrat counterparts, as they seem destined to battle all the way to the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August, each vying for the opportunity to challenge McCain in November, and two siblings from one of America's wealthiest families are busy raising cash to keep that contest going. An often overlooked twist in this political battle is that the siblings, Penny Pritzker and Robert Jay "J. B." Pritzker, are on opposing sides of the quest for the Democratic nomination for president and have strong ties to the mortgage industry. Penny Pritzker is the national finance chairwoman for Sen. Barack Obama, while her brother, J.B. Pritzker, is the national chairman of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's Citizens for Hillary, a campaign initiative for grassroots fundraising and outreach. Regardless of the outcome of the primary, if a Democrat wins the White House, there will no doubt be a contingent of Pritzker family members at the inauguration party for their major contributions to the campaign's success. Since both senators in the race have roots in the Chicago area, the Pritzkers' home town, a competition over obtaining support from members of this prominent Chicago family was bound to happen. The Pritzkers are not just Chicago's wealthiest family, but also one of Chicago's most historically philanthropic, with many members of the family active in supporting political campaigns at various levels and on both sides of the political "isle." With the two siblings on opposite sides of this historic battle, both entrusted with the key role of raising vital cash needed for the election, one can only imagine the tough decisions faced by other family members, friends and associates as each campaign made its trips through Chicago prior to the Illinois primary. For those who may not remember, Penny's candidate, Obama, was the victor in the Illinois primary. The Pritzker siblings are involved in many business interests and touch almost every single mortgage application in America. The family wealth originally began as heirs to the Hyatt hotel empire. They have been liquidating the family's holdings in a plan to distribute the wealth among the 11 heirs, of which a major segment of that diversification happened on Christmas Day in 2007 when it was announced that they would sell 60 percent of their 125 companies within The Marmon Group to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. for $4.5 billion. The connection to the mortgage industry is in the form of their ownership of the only non-publicly traded of the three national credit reporting companies, TransUnion. Due to the three bureau merge credit reporting standard at the government-sponsored enterprises and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Penny Pritzker, currently chairwoman of the board of TransUnion, plays a role in the decision to lend and at what interest rate for almost every mortgage transaction in America. Prior to her role with TransUnion, she served as chairwoman of Superior Bank of Chicago for five years. The institution failed in 2001, with more than $1 billion in insured and uninsured deposits due to its promotion of sub-prime home and auto loans. Considering the state of today's current mortgage marketplace, with the origins of many of the problems in the same type of sub-prime loans that caused Superior to fail, one must wonder why the regulators did not learn a lesson from those problems in 2001. Superior Bank was founded from another government bailout program, a failed savings and loan by the name of Lyons Savings Bank, which was bailed out by the federal government and sold to the Pritzker family in 1988 in the waning days of the savings and loan program era. J.B. Pritzker is the managing partner of a private equity firm that bears his name. He has long been active in the democratic political process and ran for Congress in 1998. While this family has a long history of very compelling business, political and philanthropic tales, this most recent political chapter in the storied family history is sure to make for some very energetic holiday dining table conversation. Terry W. Clemans is the executive director of the National Credit Reporting Association Inc. (NCRA). He may be reached at (630) 539-1525 or e-mail [email protected]
Published
May 26, 2008
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