US names former commerce secretary, big Democrat donor to coordinate private sector aid for Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has tapped former Commerce Secretary and major Democratic donor Penny Pritzker to coordinate U.S. efforts to channel private sector reconstruction assistance to Ukraine.

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the appointment on Thursday, just moments after the Treasury imposed a raft of new sanctions on Russia and Russian operatives for their role in the war on Ukraine.

“Working in lockstep with the Ukrainian government, our allies and partners, international financial institutions, and the private sector, she will drive the United States’ efforts to help rebuild the Ukrainian economy,” Biden said in a statement. “This includes mobilizing public and private investment, shaping donor priorities, and working to open export markets and businesses shut down by Russia’s brutal attacks and destruction.”

Pritzker, a native of Chicago with Ukrainian family roots, heir to her family’s Hyatt hotel fortune and a prolific fundraiser for Democratic party candidates, served as secretary of commerce during the Obama administration.

Her “extensive private sector experience, service as secretary of commerce, and deep personal connection to Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora make her uniquely qualified for this task,” Blinken said. “She will be key to our determination to see to it that Ukraine not only survives but thrives, standing on its own.”