WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump is expected to add another wealthy business person and elite donor to his Cabinet, with fast-food executive Andrew Puzder as Labor secretary.
Puzder heads CKE Restaurants Holdings, the parent company of Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s and other chains. In 2010, he published a book called “Job Creation: How it Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It.”
A Republican official and a person close to Trump’s transition said Thursday Trump had settled on Puzder for the job, but it had not been announced.
The Californian was one of Trump’s earliest campaign financiers, serving as a co-chairman of his California finance team and organizing fundraisers well before most major donors got on board with the eventual Republican nominee. Together with his wife, Puzder contributed $150,000 in late May to Trump’s campaign and Republican Party partners, fundraising records show.
As one of Trump’s most outspoken defenders, Puzder frequently appeared on cable news and Twitter to talk up the benefits of having a business leader in the White House.
A week after Trump’s election, Puzder said he agreed with Trump’s aim to ease business regulations.
“We’ve reached the point where overregulation is doing meaningful damage to our businesses,” he said last month at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas, citing high labor costs, increased health care costs and “political and social” policies as hindrances.
Trump’s recent appointments have reflected his desire to turn to business leaders – who also were campaign donors. Trump tapped former WWE chief executive and top campaign contributor Linda McMahon to lead the Small Business Administration. He also selected his campaign’s national finance chairman Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive and hedge fund investor, as Treasury secretary.
Puzder has visited with Trump several times since the election, including a meeting Wednesday afternoon at Trump Tower.
Puzder has long been a reliable GOP donor. He was a major financier for 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney and has remained close to him. At Romney’s annual donor summit in June, Puzder was one of just a few attendees who aggressively promoted Trump to the dozens who were more squeamish about their party’s new star.
He told the Associated Press at the Republican National Convention in late July that he enjoyed the challenge of raising money for Trump, saying he often sought common ground with reluctant GOP donors by talking up Trump’s children.
“If he’s such an evil villain,” Puzder said he would tell would-be donors, “how do you explain the kids?”