UPDATE 1-U.S. Senate panel receives ethics filings for Labor nominee Puzder

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By Sarah N. Lynch | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON The U.S. Senate panel tasked with
vetting labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder, executive of a
fast-food company, has received the ethics paperwork that is
needed to proceed with the confirmation process, a spokesman for
Puzder said on Wednesday.

The spokesman, George Thompson, said the Senate Committee on
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is expected to announce a
confirmation hearing date on Thursday.

The committee now has Puzder’s certification from the Office
of Government Ethics, and Thompson said he expects the panel
will receive other relevant paperwork on Thursday morning.

Puzder is the chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants,
which owns primarily franchised restaurants including Carl’s Jr.
and Hardee’s.

President Donald Trump nominated Puzder as labor secretary
in December, but tentative plans for his confirmation hearing
have been postponed repeatedly amid delays with a review by the
Office of Government Ethics.

The delays in completing the paperwork stem from the
complexities surrounding how Puzder will divest himself from CKE
Restaurants, which is owned by private equity firm Roark Capital

Other companies in Roark Capital’s portfolio include Corner
Bakery, Cinnabon, Arby’s, Carvel and Auntie Anne’s.

Senate Democrats have been highly critical of Puzder, who is
a staunch critic of an overtime rule championed by the former
Obama administration.

His nomination has sparked protests around the country by
some CKE fast-food workers and the union-backed “Fight for $15”
movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Workers from a number of CKE’s franchised locations have
also complained of wage and hour concerns and other labor
conditions in recent weeks.

In a letter to Puzder sent on Wednesday before the ethics
paperwork was sent to the Senate, the committee’s ranking
Democrat, Patty Murray, said she wanted to receive a “detailed
account” of his plans for recusals, divestments and resignations
in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest stemming from
his business relationship with Roark Capital Group.

“The franchise model’s pervasive presence in the fast food
industry, the frequency of serious labor violations connected
with franchising and your past or present financial interest in
Roark raise questions regarding your ability to faithfully carry
out the Department of Labor’s mandate,” Murray wrote.

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