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A Noted Billionaire Just Went From 'He' to 'She' (And Is Related to a Top Obama Administration Official!)

Billionaire James Pritzker in a memo to employees at the Pritzker Military Library and Tawani Enterprises last week announced that “he” is now a “she” and will go by the name “Jennifer Natalya Pritzker.”

Until last week, only family and close friends were aware of the famously reclusive heir to the Pritzker fortune and retired U.S. Army officer’s decision to live as a woman.

The emailed statement reads:

As of Aug. 16, 2013, J.N. Pritzker will undergo an official legal name change, will now be known as Jennifer Natalya Pritzker. This change will reflect the beliefs of her true identity that she has held privately and will now share publicly. Pritzker now identifies herself as a woman for all business and personal undertakings.

It is unclear whether the retired U.S. Army colonel will receive hormone therapy.

“Col. Pritzker, 63, is president and CEO of Tawani, founder and chairman of the military library and on the board of Squadron Capitol LLC, a private-equity firm in Connecticut,” Chicago Business reports, adding that the colonel’s “Tawani Foundation promotes conservation and military causes and programs.”

Col. James Pritzker, right, in a group photo at the 2009 Commit to Courage Medal of Honor Convention. (Handout photo)

The Chicago philanthropist is also famous for a storied military career, having served 11 years in active duty in the U.S. Army, including in the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, Ky. and VII Corps at Kelly Barracks, Germany, the report notes, as well as 16 years in the National Guard.

The noted billionaire has an estimated net worth of roughly $1.5 billion, according to Forbes.

Col. Pritzker is part of the legendary Chicago family famous for its wealth and political clout. The colonel’s uncles, the late Jay Pritzker and Donald Pritzker, founded the Hyatt Hotel empire.

And let’s not forget Pritzker’s cousin, chief Obama campaign bundler and now Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

Penny Pritzker was easily confirmed by the Senate in June despite longstanding concerns over her “dodgy” business past. Indeed, as noted earlier by TheBlaze, the only reason she wasn’t named to the post sooner was because of her involvement in questionable business deals.

“She and her secretive family have been caught up in some pretty dodgy commercial ventures including but not limited to dodging taxes and running a bank that specialized in subprime mortgages,” The Atlantic reported in February.

The report continues:

Back in 2008 when she was “widely reported to be a leading contender for commerce secretary,” The New York Times laid down some difficult truths about Pritzger. It’s true that 53-year-old woman — then just 49 — has managed a number of businesses in her career. Unfortunately, one of them was Superior Bank which, in The Times‘s words, “focused on bundling subprime mortgages into securities, the practice that later helped set off the current financial crisis.” Oops. That bank went under in 2001, but not after the Pritzker family agreed to pay $460 million in damages to depositors. Her involvement in Superior Bank would be trouble enough in a Senate confirmation hearing, but Pritzker’s family is also well known for their tax avoidance techniques. Borrowing The Times‘s wording again, “The Pritzkers were pioneers in using tax loopholes to shelter their holdings from the Internal Revenue Service, and many of their dealings have never been made public.”

But senators were apparently unconcerned with her business past and voted 97-1 in favor of her confirmation.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), one of the more liberal members of the U.S. Senate, was the only lawmaker to vote against her confirmation.

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Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

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