US President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated
heiress and campaign supporter Penny Pritzker to serve as his next
commerce secretary and adviser Michael Froman to serve as US trade
The nominations come as Obama leaves for Mexico and Costa Rica on a trip expected to focus heavily on trade relations.
Pritzker, an investor and member of the Hyatt hotels dynasty, was one of Obama's top campaign fundraisers. In the latest campaign, she personally donated 117,400 dollars to Obama's coffers and the Democratic Party, according to public records compiled by the website Open Secrets.
Forbes magazine put her net worth at 1.85 billion dollars, and she will likely face tough questioning about her finances in the Senate, which must confirm her nomination.
She was considered a top candidate for the job in Obama's first term but withdrew from consideration over concerns about her wealth, The Washington Post said.
Obama praised her for her management experience and civic involvement in their hometown of Chicago as well as for serving on his Jobs Council.
Froman has served as Obama's deputy national security adviser for international economics.
Obama pointed to his work at the Group of Eight and Group of 20 summits and alongside outgoing Trade Representative Ron Kirk in ironing out trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
He would "continue to fight for that level playing field in his new role as he helps to move forward trade negotiations with both the Asia-Pacific region and Europe and will also continue to advise me on a broad range of economic issues," Obama said in making the announcements in the White House Rose Garden.
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