Penny Pritzker. In 2008, President Obama's longtime billionaire friend and campaign finance chairman Penny Pritzker torpedoed reports that she was seeking the cabinet position after running into "business obstacles that prevented her from becoming commerce secretary," The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray and Matthew Mosk reported. The paper says the job was hers for the taking but things apparently went sour after she launched a "review of her vast financial holdings, weighing whether she could disentangle herself to the extent necessary to meet Obama's strict standards for service in his administration" (read: lobbyist, donor ties).
Bill Richardson. Causing an unwelcome headache for the Obama administration, in January 2009, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson abandoned his nomination for commerce secretary as he came under pressure for a "pay-to-play" grand jury investigation into a state contract given to one of his political donors (aggravating timing, no doubt, as the pay-to-play scandal involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was fresh in the public's mind). In 2009, Richardson was cleared in the federal probe.
Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.