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Puzder Shouldn’t “Buy His Way” Into Cabinet

February 14, 2017 | Laura Friedenbach

Washington, D.C. — The troubling anti-worker history of Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Labor and the donations he has given to senators who’ll oversee his confirmation should raise serious questions about Andy Puzder’s nomination and Senators must press these issues during this week’s hearing, according to money-in-politics reform group Every Voice and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.

New analysis from the nonpartisan research group, MapLight.org, has found that, “Andrew Puzder and his wife, CKE Restaurants, and the National Restaurant Association have contributed over $1.2 million combined to 79 senators who will vote on his confirmation, with the largest contributions going to Roy Blunt of Missouri, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz of Texas.”

“Andy Puzder fits right in with his fellow Cabinet appointees like Betsy DeVos who have a history of using their personal wealth for political gain. He has used his wealth to buy power and influence so he can convince politicians that his workers don’t deserve fair pay and benefits,” said David Donnelly, president and CEO of Every Voice. “Lots of Senators have received campaign cash from Puzder—will they give him the scrutiny his troubling record deserves?”

“The practices and policies espoused by Andy Puzder are bad for workers, bad for consumers, and bad for the economy,” said Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. “He should not be able to use his campaign contributions to buy his way out of scrutiny. Puzder has a record of putting his profits ahead of people.”

Puzder’s History of Selling Out Workers—And Buying Influence So He Can Get Away with It

Puzder and his business have a worrying history of poorly treating their workers while using political donations and lobbyists to ensure they can get away with it—including donations to the senators considering his nomination.

During his tenure as the CEO of CKE Restaurants, the company was cited 98 times by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for safety violations. More than half of Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s restaurants—the restaurants that CKE owns—were found to be in violation of wage and hour laws, and his business has been subject to more federal employment discrimination lawsuits than any other major US hamburger chain. Following the Puzder-inspired ad campaign featuring scantily-clad women eating hamburgers, 66 percent of female employees at CKE restaurants say they have experienced sexual harassment.

These issues are enough to warrant real concerns about Puzder’s fitness for the position of overseeing our country’s labor laws and about his willingness to protect workers, but his history as a campaign donor raises further questions about whether the Republican beneficiaries of his donations can give him the scrutiny this position deserves.

According to analysis released last week from MapLight.org:

Andrew Puzder and his wife, CKE Restaurants, and the National Restaurant Association have contributed over $1.2 million combined to 79 senators who will vote on his confirmation, with the largest contributions going to Roy Blunt of Missouri, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz of Texas. Nearly a quarter of this money was given by the National Restaurant Association to 18 of the 23 senators who sit on the committee presiding over Mr. Puzder’s hearing.

Organizations associated with Mr. Puzder have also heavily lobbied the federal government, often pertaining to issues that he would enforce as labor secretary. CKE Restaurant franchises have been repeatedly accused of violating wage and labor laws, and several of his restaurant employees described poor working conditions at a recent panel convened by Democratic senators.

CKE Restaurants spent $40,000 to lobby the federal government in 2016. Since 2008, the company has spent $940,000 on issues such as union formation, displaying nutrition information on restaurant menus, and franchise regulations.

The National Restaurant Association spent $3.93 million to lobby the federal government last year. Since 2008, the company has spent $27 million. On its website, the restaurant organization says it aims to “mitigate the negative impact” of the Affordable Care Act, support business-friendly tax provisions, and prevent lower-paid employees from being eligible for overtime.

View MapLight’s full report here. Here’s how much Senators on the HELP committee have received from Puzdner, CKE restaurants and its employees, and the National Restaurant Association and its employees, according to analysis by MapLight:

Senator in HELP Committee     Amount
Richard Burr (R)

$34,000

Johnny Isakson (R)

$33,700

Susan Collins (R)

$29,000

Orrin G Hatch (R)

$28,499

Lisa Murkowski (R)

$26,000

Lamar Alexander (R)

$25,000

Pat Roberts (R)

$23,000

Mike Enzi (R)

$23,000

Tim Scott (R)

$16,000

Bill Cassidy (R)

$11,000

Todd Young (R)

$10,000

Patty Murray (D)

$5,000

Michael F Bennet (D)

$5,000

Bob Casey (D)

$5,000

Tim Kaine (D)

$1,000

Christopher S Murphy (D)

$1,000

Elizabeth Warren (D)

$500

Bernie Sanders (D)

$15

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Every Voice is a national nonpartisan organization fighting for a democracy that works for everyone.