POLITICS
02/08/2017 02:00 pm ET Updated Feb 08, 2017

Trump's Labor Nominee Is Ready For His Hearing, Spokesman Says (UPDATE)

After many delays, the Senate can now proceed with the confirmation process for fast-food executive Andy Puzder.
The hearing for Andy Puzder, the nominee for labor secretary, has been delayed several times as the Senate waited on his pape
Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The hearing for Andy Puzder, the nominee for labor secretary, has been delayed several times as the Senate waited on his paperwork that would detail potential conflicts of interest.

Andy Puzder, President Donald Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, has turned in his ethics paperwork and is ready to have his confirmation hearing scheduled, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Puzder’s hearing had been delayed several times as the Senate waited to receive Puzder’s paperwork from the Office of Government Ethics, which would detail any conflicts of interest he may have and how he would address them.

“The Office of Government Ethics has conducted a thorough review of how Mr. Puzder will fully address any conflicts of interest and appears satisfied as indicated by their sign-off on his OGE certification,” George Thompson, a Puzder spokesman, said Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee confirmed it received Puzder’s certificate on Wednesday, but is waiting on his committee questionnaire. Thompson said that questionnaire should be received by Thursday.

The announcement came on the same day that Senate Democrats sent a letter to Puzder demanding that he detail his relationship with the private-equity firm that owns his fast-food company. Puzder is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. burger chains.

In her letter, Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), ranking Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said she’s concerned about any ties Puzder may have to Roark Capital, which bought a majority stake in CKE Restaurants in 2013. Roark specializes in acquiring restaurant companies based on the franchise model, and its investments include Jimmy John’s, Arby’s and Cinnabon.

The Labor Department is responsible for enforcing workplace standards inside franchised restaurants, and the fast-food industry is known for its frequent violations of the law. The agency under President Barack Obama even implemented a targeted enforcement program aimed at holding fast-food operators accountable.

According to Murray, any “past or present financial interest in Roark” that Puzder may have “raises questions regarding your ability to faithfully carry out the Department of Labor’s mandate.”  

“I firmly believe any Secretary of Labor must be willing and able to effectively enforce these crucial worker protection laws,” Murray wrote. “If you are confirmed, you could be required to recuse yourself from decisions involving a significant sector of businesses, raising serious questions about your ability to fulfill your duties.”

A representative for Puzder told The Associated Press last week that the holdup to his confirmation hearing was due to the time it was taking Puzder to divest, though other outlets have reported that he has had second thoughts about the job.

Democrats and worker groups have assailed Puzder’s nomination from a number of different fronts.

His restaurant chains have racked up a long list of workplace violations over the years, and as labor secretary, Puzder would be responsible for enforcing those very laws. As The Huffington Post reported Monday, Puzder also personally employed an undocumented worker on his property. And his ex-wife leveled abuse allegations against him years ago. Although she later retracted the claims, she went on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in disguise to talk about domestic violence.

If the entire Democratic minority voted against Puzder, they would still need three Republicans to break ranks and join them in order to sink his nomination.

This post has been updated throughout to reflect that the HELP Committee received Puzder’s OGE certificate Wednesday and to include comments from Puzder’s spokesman.

This post has been updated throughout to reflect that the HELP Committee received Puzder’s OGE certificate Wednesday and to include comments from Puzder’s spokesman.

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