Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants and Donald Trump’s pick to run the Department of Labor, appears headed towards a dubious distinction: the first Trump cabinet nominee who fails to be confirmed.
According to a report from CNN’s Manu Raju, Senate Republicans have been leaning heavily on the White House to withdraw Puzder’s nomination, a tacit acknowledgement that he does not have enough votes in the upper chamber to be confirmed. Raju reports that there are at least four firm “no” votes, with as many as eight others who are on the fence. It would only take three Republicans to join all 48 Democrats in torpedoing his nomination.
That was followed shortly by reports that Puzder himself was planning to withdraw his nomination before his confirmation hearing, scheduled for Thursday morning.
Puzder was a controversial nominee from the get-go. His selection at the end of last year earned the ire of the Fight for $15 movement, which continues to fight for increases to the federal minimum wage even as executives like Puzder remain steadfastly opposed. Carl’s Jr. and Hardees, two fast-food chains owned by Puzder’s CKE Restaurants, are frequent targets of Fight for $15.
But it’s troubling details from his personal and professional life that derailed Puzder’s nomination. Last month, ROC United, a restaurant employee advocacy group, released a report detailing instances of sexual harassment, discrimination, and wage theft in establishments overseen by Puzder. That was followed by a series of formal complaints filed against Puzder’s company with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state departments of labor.
Then this week came word that the Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit organization that deals with governmental ethics, filed a request to reopen Puzder’s divorce records, which contains details of his physical abuse towards ex-wife Lisa Fierstein (nee Henning). Those allegations resurfaced this week when the U.S. Senate was provided copies of a 1990 episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show wherein Fierstein recounts Puzder’s abuse. She has since recanted her accusations.
Republican Senators Susan Collins (ME), Johnny Isakson (GA), Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Tim Scott (SC) — who all sit on the Senate HELP Committee — planned to withhold their support for Puzder until after his confirmation hearing.
Puzder’s withdrawal comes just 48 hours after National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned his post.