(Adds background on the progressive movement's concerns with
Puzder; changes spelling of media keyword to "USA-TRUMP/PUZDER"
to correct "PUDZER" to "PUZDER")
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON Feb 7 U.S. President Donald Trump's
choice to lead the Labor Department admitted to employing an
undocumented immigrant as a house cleaner, the kind of
revelation that derailed Cabinet nominees in previous
Andrew Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants
Inc, is one of several Trump nominees who face strong opposition
from Senate Democrats and progressive groups.
In a statement late on Monday, Puzder said he and his wife
had employed a housekeeper for a few years without being aware
that she was not legally permitted to work in the United States.
"When I learned of her status, we immediately ended her
employment and offered her assistance in getting legal status,"
he said in the statement. He said he paid back taxes for
employing the maid to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and to
The statement was first reported by the Huffington Post.
Senator Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Committee on
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the panel that will vet
Puzder's nomination, said in a statement that Puzder had
reported his mistake and voluntarily corrected it.
"I do not believe that this should disqualify him from being
a cabinet secretary," he added.
The disclosure came as Senate Democrats held an all-night
session in a final attempt to block the nomination of Betsy
DeVos, the billionaire school-choice champion whom Trump
nominated to be education secretary.
Puzder's tentative date for a confirmation hearing has been
repeatedly postponed, as the committee awaited completion of an
ethics review by the Office of Government Ethics.
As of Tuesday, the committee had still not received any of
the necessary paperwork on Puzder's nomination, though the
Federal Bureau of Investigation background check had been
completed, according to a committee aide.
Senator Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the panel,
said on Tuesday she was troubled by the delay and by stories
from workers for CKE's primarily franchised fast-food
restaurants who have come forward in recent weeks to complain
about wage theft and other labor conditions.
"If Mr. Puzder ever does come before our committee, he’s
going to have a lot of explaining to do," she said.
Puzder's nomination has sparked protests around the country
by some CKE fast-food workers and the union-backed "Fight for
$15" movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Puzder has criticized an overtime rule championed by the
Obama administration and opposes raising the minimum wage to $15
Additionally, some of CKE's racy advertisements featuring
women in bikinis have caused Democrats to ask questions about
how Puzder will address sexual harassment in the workplace.
It is unclear whether the issues with hiring an undocumented
worker could impede Puzder's confirmation.
Wilbur Ross, Trump's pick for commerce secretary, admitted
last month that he recently fired a household employee who could
not provide proof of legal status.
A Senate panel later approved his nomination. He was
awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.
However, previous presidential appointees have run into
problems over immigrant labor - including two former nominees
under Republican President George W. Bush and a previous nominee
under Democratic President Bill Clinton.
All three of those nominees withdrew their names for
consideration after the news came to light.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Doina
Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Jonathan Oatis)