Government, Executive - Oprah Tanks Trump Labor Secretary Nominee
Andrew Puzder was already having a hard time lining up enough votes in the US Senate to confirm him as the next US Secretary of Labor. It was a sordid piece of his home life from almost three decades ago that torpedoed his nomination.
In 1990, a woman disguised in large-framed glasses and a wig appeared on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show titled "High-Class Battered Women". She used the name Ann, but her real name is Lisa Fierstein - ex-wife of Andrew Puzder. And she told how Puzder allegedly vowed revenge against her for ending their troubled marriage. In legal papers from the divorce in 1988, Fierstein said Puzder had "assaulted and battered (her) by striking her violently about the face, chest, back, shoulders, and neck, without provocation or cause."
Puzder has repeatedly denied the assault claims, and Fierstein herself retracted them saying she made them to try and gain extra leverage in the divorce. But Puzder had a list of other problems.
Democrats were ready to portray Puzder as someone with regressive attitudes toward women, and it wouldn't have been that difficult to find the evidence: As CEO of the company that owns the US Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast food chains, Puzder oversaw remarkably misogynist advertising campaigns featuring scantily-clad models wolfing down double and triple cheeseburgers.
"We target hungry guys, and we get young kids that want to be young hungry guys," Puzder said during the 2011 campaign. As recently as 2015, Puzder boasted, "I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it's very American."
Other controversies abound: He hired an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper - something that has sunk cabinet nominees going back to the 1990s - and has a record of labor law violations at the fast-food giant he leads. Puzder even openly wished her could fire his employees and replace them with robots. One of his former executives said Puzder ran the home office like a "boy's club, a white boy's club. He basically treated the employees like chattel."
Labor groups say that under Puzder's management, almost 60 percent of Fair Labor Standards Act investigations into Carl's Jr. or Hardee's resulted in violations against the fast-food chains. And the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company 21 times since 2009.