- In the latest blow to President Donald Trump as he tries to assemble his administration, labor secretary nominee, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his name from consideration on Wednesday amid concerns that he could not garner enough Senate votes to be confirmed. The reason for the pulled nomination is that Puzdre admitted earlier this month that he and his wife had employed an undocumented person as a housekeeper.
- He faced a flurry of complaints and legal cases brought in recent weeks and months by workers against his business and its franchises. Workers at some of CKE's restaurants have filed claims in recent weeks alleging they were victims of wage theft or victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
- At least seven Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, declined to publicly back Puzder in advance of the confirmation hearing, thereby making his election virtually impossible.
- “After careful consideration and discussions with my family, I am withdrawing my nomination for Secretary of Labor," Puzder said in a statement.
- Puzder's decision to withdraw is yet another setback this week for a White House still grappling with fallout from Monday night's abrupt resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn, after less than a month in the job.
- Puzder, the chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc, which franchises fast-food chains including Hardee's and Carl's Jr, has been at the center of a swirl of controversies, complaints and potential conflicts. CKE declined on Wednesday to say if Puzder will remain as CEO after his decision to withdraw.
Update 2: It's confirmed:
- PUZDER TO WITHDRAW NOMINATION FOR LABOR SECY: FOX NEWS
* * *
Update: that didn't take long. As CBS' Chief White House reporter Major Garrett reported moments, ago a "source very close to Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder tells me he expects Puzder to withdraw. "He's very tired of the abuse." And now begins the scramble by Trump to find a replacement.
News: Source very close to Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder tells me he expects Puzder to withdraw. "He's very tired of the abuse."— Major Garrett (@MajorCBS) February 15, 2017
* * *
Following Betsy DeVos' narrow confirmation, it seems Andrew Puzder may not be so lucky.
The President's pick for labor secretary faces a Republican revolt as CNN reports a number of top Senate Republicans have urged Trump to withdraw the Carl's Jr. CEO's nomination.
EXCLUSIVE: Top Senate Rs have urged the WH to withdraw Puzder nomination. There are 4 firm no votes and up to 12, source says. Next on CNN— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 15, 2017
As CNN reports,
Top Senate Republicans have urged the White House to withdraw the Andrew Puzder nomination for labor secretary, a senior GOP source said, adding there are four firm Republican no votes and possibly up to 12.
Puzder needs at least 50 votes to pass with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence, and Republicans only hold control of 52 seats.
Puzder, the CEO of the company that owns the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast food chains, has faced fierce opposition mostly from Democrats in part related to his position on labor issues as well as the fact that he employed an undocumented housekeeper.
This would inject yet more turmoil into a tempestuous first few weeks for Trump's tenure as Republicans can lose 2 Republican votes and still secure a nominee, as they did with DeVos, but 4 is a dagger, as Democrats have solidified in opposition.
By way of backgrund The LA Times notes that concerns had been mounting as new controversies have arisen in recent days, including Puzder's admission that he had employed a housekeeper for years who was in the U.S. illegally.
Puzder paid back taxes related to that employee after Trump picked him for Labor secretary in early December.
Some Republicans also have viewed a 1990 episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in which Puzder's ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, made allegation of spousal abuse, according to Politico.
Fierstein wrote to the leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last month saying she later withdrew the allegations and vouching for Puzder as a "a good, loving, kind man."
But Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she had viewed the Oprah episode and told reporters Tuesday she had not made up her mind on Puzder's nomination.
"There have been issues that have been raised about him, and I’m sure that all of them will be thoroughly addressed in the hearing," Collins said.
Asked about Puzder on Wednesday, Collins said, "I've expressed my concerns."
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) also said this week that they were awaiting the confirmation hearing before making a decision. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio also expressed concerns.
"I think it’s important that before we come to any conclusions or make any judgments that we have an opportunity to hear from him at his confirmation hearing respond to some of the questions that have been raised," Thune said Tuesday.
The issues involving his housekeeper and ex-wife came on top of controversial comments Puzder has made in recent years opposing an increase in the minimum wage to $15 and musing about deploying increased automation to his restaurants.
Democrats also have highlighted labor law violations at CKE Restaurants, and fast-food workers have staged protests against Puzder’s nomination in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
Finally we noted that Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for Puzder to withdraw, calling him "probably the most anti-worker" choice ever for the Cabinet position... which means whoever Trump chooses next for the role is - by defintion - not "the most anti-worker" choice.