The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Penny Pritzker to become the next Commerce secretary.
Pritzker easily won confirmation with a 97-to-1 vote. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was the lone no vote.
“Penny is a proven leader, a successful entrepreneur, and one of the most accomplished and highly respected women in business today,” President Obama said in a statement after the vote. “She knows what it takes to build companies from the ground up, and she shares my belief in doing everything we can to help businesses and workers succeed and make America a magnet for good jobs.”
Pritzker, whose family founded the Hyatt Hotel chain, had butted heads with Obama’s union supporters and initially understated her income by $80 million in a disclosure form required for her nomination.
Republicans also raised questions about her use of offshore tax havens — something the Obama campaign blasted GOP nominee Mitt Romney for during last year’s campaign. She also faced scrutiny at a Senate confirmation hearing for her ties to a subprime mortgage lender that failed in 2001.
Despite the issues, Pritzker sailed through confirmation.
Pritzker raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s two presidential campaigns. She served as national finance chair of his 2008 campaign and co-chair of his 2012 re-election bid. Her personal fortune is estimated at $1.85 billion, and she is listed among the 300 wealthiest Americans by Forbes magazine.
The Commerce Department has been led by Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank since John Bryson resigned last summer amid health concerns. Blank is leaving the administration to become chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Aamer Madhani reports for USA Today.