Politics

Trump’s Labor Secretary Pick Employed An Illegal Housekeeper. That Usually Sinks A Nominee

REUTERS/Mike Segar

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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Andy Puzder, President Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of labor, admitted to employing an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper, an allegation that has stopped the confirmation of several political appointees.

“My wife and I employed a housekeeper for a few years, during which I was unaware that she was not legally permitted to work in the U.S.,” Puzder said in a statement reported by the New York Times. “When I learned of her status, we immediately ended her employment and offered her assistance in getting legal status,” Puzder said.

Puzder said that he and his wife have already repaid the IRS and the state of California all back taxes owed for employing the maid.

Multiple presidential nominees of both parties have withdrawn from the confirmation process over employing illegal immigrants.

Linda Chavez, President George W. Bush’s first nominee to lead the Department of Labor, withdrew from the confirmation process in 2001 when reports surfaced that she employed a Guatemalan woman who was in the U.S. illegally.

Chavez maintained that she allowed the woman to stay in her house out of charity, and gave her cash as spending money, but the explanation didn’t stick.

The scandal became a “distraction,” leading Chavez to withdraw her nomination. “I think that it is a very, very bad signal to all those good people out there who want to serve their government and want to serve the people of the United States,” Chavez told reporters during a news conference in 2001.

President Bill Clinton’s nominee for attorney general in 1993, Zoe Baird, withdrew her nomination after admitting she hired two illegal immigrants, one as a driver and the other as a nanny, and didn’t pay back any Social Security taxes.

To replace Baird, the Clinton administration considered nominating Judge Kimba Wood for attorney general. The White House learned that Wood also may have employed an illegal immigrant nanny, and asked Wood to resign. The two scandals quickly became known as “Nannygate.”

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions has delayed Puzder’s confirmation hearing four times this year, and won’t reschedule a hearing until the Office of Government Ethics sends completed paperwork showing Puzder has no conflicts of interest with his company, CKE Restaurants, which runs fast food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

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