Andrew Puzder, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice as labor secretary is a wealthy businessman and elite donor to Trump’s campaign.
Puzder, 66, is the head of 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.
Andy Puzder was raised in a working class community in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the oldest of five children and named for his father, a car salesman.
He told Franchise Times that paid his way through his first two years of college at Kent State University by playing the guitar. In May 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen killed four Kent State students and wounded nine more during a campus uprising and Puzder left the school.
“I spent the next three years attending concerts and marching on Washington,” Puzder said.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cleveland State University in 1975, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college, the Trump transition team said.
Puzder received his law degree from Washington University School of Law in 1978 and began practicing law in St. Louis, according to his blog.
St. Louis law practice
While practicing law in St. Louis, Puzder helped write and pass in 1986 the Missouri law declaring life begins at conception, which had the effect of banning most abortions at public facilities. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law in 1989 in a decision known as Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services.
There he met Carl Karcher, the founder of Carl’s Jr. , who was in serious financial trouble. Karcher asked Puzder to move to California to be his personal attorney. Puzder moved to Orange County, California, in 1991 resolved Karcher’s financial problems. Puzder went on to lead the company in 2000. The company now has 3,750 locations in 44 states and 40 countries and U.S. territories, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company has about 75,000 employees in the U.S. and almost 100,000 worldwide, with total sales topping $4.3 billion.
Active in politics
He has long been a reliable Republican Party donor. He was a major financier for 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney and has remained close to him. At Romney’s annual donor summit in June, Puzder was one of a few attendees who aggressively promoted Trump to the dozens who were more squeamish about their party’s new star.
Puzder 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.
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 Republican Party 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?”
Puzder has six children and six grandchildren and lives with his second wife, Dee, in Franklin, Tennessee, according to his blog.