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Labor nominee Andy Puzder pledges to divest CKE Restaurants holdings and other assets if confirmed

Labor secretary nominee Andy Puzder pledged that, if confirmed, he would divest his multimillion-dollar stake in CKE Restaurants Inc. — the fast food company he has headed since 2000 — and sell a wide array of other holdings, according to federal financial disclosure and ethics forms.

Puzder also promised not to participate in any matters as Labor secretary involving CKE, parent company of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains, unless he first received a waiver or authorization in conjunction with federal law.

The forms were filed with the Office of Government Ethics and obtained by The Times on Wednesday.

The 33-page disclosure report showed Puzder had $35 million to $119 million in assets, which are required to be reported only within broad ranges.

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His stake in CKE Restaurants is worth between $11 million and $55 million. Puzder listed liabilities of nearly $4 million to $12 million, mostly mortgages on two personal residences.

Puzder’s confirmation hearing had been delayed four times as the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee awaited the forms.

Now that the committee has received the paperwork, a confirmation hearing has been set for Feb. 16, said Taylor Haulsee, a spokesman for the panel’s chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).

The paperwork delay apparently was caused in part by the complexity of divesting from CKE, which is privately held.

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Puzder said he received $3.4 million in salary and bonus from CKE Restaurants last year. He said he would resign as chief executive “upon confirmation” and would not receive any severance or deferred compensation. 

He said he would keep the estimated bonus of $1 million to $5 million that he is owed this year and reimbursement of $250,000 to $500,000 for his move to Tennessee, where CKE’s corporate headquarters is relocating this year, if he receives the money before he takes office as Labor secretary.

If confirmed, Puzder said he would sell his holdings in 213 companies and other investments within 90 days. Those include AT&T, Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble, as well as bonds from the state of California and the University of California.

Within 120 days, he said he would sell holdings in 13 investment funds.

Senate Democrats have complained about the delay in receiving Puzder’s paperwork, one of several criticisms of him. His large net worth is likely to be a target at his confirmation hearing.

Democrats have been critical of labor law violations at his company’s restaurants, and fast-food workers have staged protests against Puzder’s nomination in Los Angeles and elsewhere.

Democrats also have criticized Puzder for his opposition to increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. And opponents received more ammunition this week when Puzder admitted to employing a housekeeper who was an immigrant in the U.S. illegally.

Puzder said he was unaware of her immigration status and ended her employment when he discovered it, offering to help her obtain legal status. He said he fully paid back taxes to the IRS and California. 

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A spokesman for Puzder said the housekeeper was employed about five years ago but that Puzder paid the back taxes only after then-President-elect Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate him in early December.

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jim.puzzanghera@latimes.com

Follow @JimPuzzanghera on Twitter


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