- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2017


One of the Obama Foundation’s newest members of its board of directors is none other than Penny Pritzker, the Commerce Department secretary under the Barack Obama administration and the finance chair of Obama’s 2008 campaign — and oh yes, this too, a name that just surfaced in the Paradise Papers as tied to offshore tax havens.

Well, would you look at that.

One of anti-fat cat Obama’s own foundation directors is an offshore tax haven sheltering fat catter.

This is an interesting connection.

Barack Obama, as the press likes to dote, is squeaky clean — his family, his marriage his presidential goings-on, his entire life practically one of sainthood and sacrifice for the greater good. Know what else the media likes to say about Obama?

That he’s a man-of-the-people type of guy — a true sharer of the wealth, spreader of the riches, abstainer of the dreaded pitfalls of capitalism, scorner of the purse.

Now look at Pritzker. Can you say conflict?

On Nov. 3, the Obama Foundation announced the appointment of Pritzker to its board of directors, along with three others, saying the additions “will strengthen the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to civic and community engagement … [and] help the Obama Foundation with its mission to identify, inspire, and train the next generation of civic leaders to make the positive change needed to strengthen Chicago communities and communities across the country.”

How altruistic. The directors serve in a voluntary capacity — meaning, nonpaid.

But Pritzker doesn’t really need the money, to put it mildly.

From the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 7: “Chicago billionaire and former Commerce Department secretary Penny Pritzker turns up in the Paradise Papers, a trove of records published this week by a global network of journalists examining leaked documents about offshore tax havens. Documents show that soon after Pritzker became commerce secretary in 2013, she transferred shares in two offshore investments to a limited liability company registered in Delaware and owned by trusts for the benefit of her two children, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists said.”

Well now, that doesn’t seem so altruistic, does it?

Of course, it’s all above board — at least, according to Pritzker’s people.

A spokesperson for Pritzker assured the Tribune that the former commerce secretary has now, then and always complied with “the letter and the spirit of the law” — the old nothing to see here, go home folks line of argument.

Still, the perception of a potential conflict of interest hangs pretty heavy.

In fact, Sen. Charles Grassley called out Obama for hypocrisy when Pritzker was first named as Commerce secretary and her tax haven background came to light, saying it seemed oh-so-easy for Obama to “overlook tax avoidance when convenient” while loudly and frequently slamming the same as a “fat cat shenanigan” when others — read: Republicans — were involved.

Good point.

Very good point, in fact.

And now the larger question looms: What will squeaky-clean Obama do about Pritzker’s board appointment?

A squeaky-clean man would renounce the appointment. A squeaky-clean man concerned about public perception and image would revoke it, but quick. A squeaky-clean man with true abhorrence for fat-cat profiteering would repudiate the appointment, loudly and widely.

So you know what that means, don’t you?

Pritzker can settle in for a long and glorious board appointment.

As the Foundation wrote: “Penny … will be a major asset to the Obama Foundation Board of Directors.”

No doubt. Her money, her political savvy, her financial wiles will go far in helping the Obama brand advance its progressive-socialist principles for years to come.

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