It’s been a rough day for Donald Trump’s appointees. On Monday, Monica Crowley said she will not take a communications job at the National Security Council amid a plagiarism scandal. Then a CNN report claimed Georgia Congressman Tom Price invested in a medical-device company shortly before introducing legislation that would benefit it.
Now, another CNN report says that Andy Puzder, CEO of the company that owns Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., is having second thoughts about becoming Labor secretary. “He may be bailing,” said a Republican source close to the Trump transition team. “He is not into the pounding he is taking, and the paperwork.”
CNN reports that a Trump transition spokesperson initially declined to comment, then pointed to this tweet as a rebuttal:
Puzder has come under fire from labor advocates, who note that he opposes many workplace regulations intended to protect fast-food employees. CKE Restaurants, parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., has paid millions to settle class-action lawsuits claiming that the company cheated workers. He’s also talked about replacing fast-food workers with robots as a way to deal with the rising minimum wage.
“It would be hard to pick someone who is more anti-labor than this guy for the Labor Department,” Paul Secunda, director of the Labor and Employment Law Program at Marquette University, told ThinkProgress.
Democrats and labor groups have launched an aggressive campaign against Puzder. Last week there were protests against Puzder outside fast-food restaurants in more than a dozen cities nationwide, and several Democratic lawmakers have spoken out against his nomination.
“Mr. Puzder has spent his career rigging the system against American workers by opposing the overtime rule, opposing the minimum wage, and underpaying his own workers,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “His nomination as labor secretary is proof positive that the incoming administration won’t keep its promises to working people.”
Puzder’s nomination has also brought personal issues to light. In their 1989 divorce proceedings, Puzder’s ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, accused him of domestic assault on at least three occasions. Puzder denied the allegations and Fierstein told New York that she “impulsively filed for divorce and was counseled to file allegations that I regretted and subsequently withdrew over 30 years ago.” But last week Politico reported that Fierstein appeared in disguise on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show as a victim of domestic violence.
Puzder’s required ethics and financial disclosures have yet to be released by the Office of Government Ethics. His confirmation hearing was delayed for a second time this week, and the date has yet to be set.
Still, other sources told CNN that they don’t expect Puzder to withdraw. One Republican said top transition officials are urging Puzder to stay on despite the controversy, explaining, “Trump loves it and wants the fight.”