LABOR PICK PUZDER WITHDRAWS FROM CONSIDERATION AMID CONTROVERSY

[2/15/17]  Fast-food chain CEO Andrew Puzder withdrew from consideration for Labor secretary Wednesday afternoon, amid mounting controversy over his personal and professional past.

Puzder issued a statement removing his name on the eve of his scheduled Senate hearing, where lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were preparing for tough questioning.

“After careful consideration and discussions with my family, I am withdrawing my nomination for Secretary of Labor,” he said in the statement.

“I am honored to have been considered by President Donald Trump to lead the Department of Labor and put America’s workers and businesses back on a path to sustainable prosperity. I want to thank President Trump for his nomination. I also thank my family and my many supporters – employees, businesses, friends and people who have voiced their praise and hopeful optimism for the policies and new thinking I would have brought to America as Secretary of Labor.”

The decision is the latest blow for the Trump administration, coming on the heels of national security adviser Michael Flynn resigning amid a controversy over his past contact with the Russian ambassador.

Puzder’s problems have been mounting for weeks, but were concentrating as several Senate Republicans made clear they were withholding support ahead of his previously scheduled Senate hearing.

Well-placed senior Capitol Hill sources told Fox News that “about a dozen” Republican senators expressed reservations or concerns about Puzder, and told their leadership they were not prepared to support his nomination.

Puzder’s high-profile divorce including past abuse allegations from his ex-wife; revelations that his family had hired an undocumented immigrant as their housekeeper; and his business background all have cast a harsh spotlight on the executive. Puzder could not afford to lose much Republican backing, since the GOP has a slim majority in the Senate.