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As DOL Nominee Puzder Quits, Fiduciary Rule Review Likely Delayed

February 16, 2017

Andrew Puzder, president Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Labor, has withdrawn his nomination just a day before his scheduled confirmation hearing, Reuters writes. Without anyone at the helm of the agency, a review of the agency’s fiduciary rule cannot be carried out, sources tell BenefitsPro.

Puzder, CEO of fast-food company CKE Restaurants Inc., quit amid predictions he would not garner enough Senate votes to secure the nomination, according to the newswire. Ahead of the hearing, seven Republican senators said publicly that they would not support his nomination, Reuters writes.

Several sources tell BenefitsPRO that Puzder’s withdrawal will hamper Trump’s memorandum issued earlier this month to review the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, which requires retirement brokers to put clients’ interest first and was originally scheduled to go live in April. The DOL seemingly yielded to the memorandum, asking the Office of Management and Budget to delay its implementation and embark on yet another public comment period.

But without a confirmed secretary leading the agency, the review can’t be performed, sources tell BenefitsPro.

Even if the review is performed, Shearman & Sterling LLP partner Kenneth Laverriere told Law360 last week that the DOL would be unlikely to publish any review until a permanent secretary was confirmed. As reported previously, Edward Hugler has been acting labor secretary since January 20 when president Barack Obama appointee Thomas Perez resigned.

On the news of his withdrawal, Patty Murray, the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said it was clear from the start “that Puzder is uniquely unqualified,” Reuters writes.

In recent weeks, Puzder had been facing a slew of complaints and lawsuits over his company’s business practices, including allegations of sexual harassment and wage theft, according to the newswire.

Andrew Puzder (Getty)

Puzder also admitted earlier this month that he and his wife had hired an undocumented immigrant as their housekeeper, Reuters writes. In addition, the Oprah Winfrey Show released a 1987 tape last week in which Puzder’s ex-wife appeared anonymously on the show as a victim of domestic violence, according to a Senate aide, the newswire writes. She had subsequently recanted the allegations of physical abuse against Puzder after appearing on the show, according to Reuters.

Trump refused to answer questions about Puzder after is meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the New York Times writes.

Trump will face pressure to quickly nominate someone else, particularly in light of the resignation of Trump’s pick for national security advisor, Michael Flynn, just two days prior, as well as opposition to several other Trump nominees, according to the paper.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the BenefitsPRO article cited in this story, click here.
  • To read the Reuters article cited in this story, click here.
  • To read the New York Times article cited in this story, click here.