President Donald Trump’s choice for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder has withdrawn his candidacy on the eve of the long-delayed confirmation hearing.
Several Republican senators declined to support him after he admitted that he had employed an illegal immigrant as a former housekeeper.
The fast-food chain billionaire had come under fire for his remarks on women and employees at his restaurants.
He became President Trump’s first cabinet pick who couldn’t secure the nomination.
The fallout of Mr. Puzder’s rancorous divorce in the 1980s had come back to haunt him.
In a 1990 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Mr. Puzder’s ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein appeared in disguise as a victim of domestic violence. The episode was titled High-Class Battered Women, and her presence in the show just came to light recently.
The couple split in 1987, but Ms. Fierstein dropped the abuse claims later in a child custody agreement.
She sent a letter to the Senate Committee, that was due to hold Mr. Puzder’s confirmation hearing, on January 18 in which she stated that “Andy is not and was not abusive or violent.”
Susan Collins, however, said that she was taking the talk show tape into consideration. She’s one of the several Republican who withheld support for Mr. Puzder. While speaking to reporters on Monday, the lawmaker from Maine said:
“I have gone to view the Oprah Winfrey show for an hour on which his former wife appeared, and I am reviewing the other information that has come to light.”
The clip was presented to the members of the Senate panel last month.
There have also been increasing opposition by union groups against the CEO of CKE Restaurants (Mr. Puzder) to raise the minimum wage, revisit the overtime laws and increase the break-time allocated to workers.
CKE Restaurants is the parent company of burger chains like Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s. Some of the staff at these burger chains have claimed that they are subject to wage theft and sexual harassment in the workplace.
Tim Scott, Republican Senator from South Carolina, said that he had voiced his reluctance to the Republican leadership to back the Labor nominee. He said:
“As revelations regarding paying employees in cash, illegal immigration, and comments regarding some of the American workforce came to light, I developed serious concerns regarding his nomination.”
President of AFL-CIO union, Richard Trumka, contended that Mr. Puzder would not have protected employees in his own industry, “how can he possibly go out and defend workers?”
Mr. Puzder was also criticized for a racy commercial featuring bikini models gorging on fast food. The press release to defend the strategy in 2011 was also met with same criticism. It read, “We believe in putting hot models in our commercials because ugly ones don’t sell burgers.”
His acceptance of failing to pay taxes on an undocumented housekeeper, who kept working for five years, became the most damaging blow to his nomination.
In a statement that confirmed his withdrawal on Wednesday, Mr. Puzder said:
“I fully support the president and his highly qualified team.”