President Donald Trump selected Alexander Acosta as his choice for labor secretary during a press conference on Thursday afternoon, making him the first Hispanic member of Trump’s cabinet if he’s confirmed.
Acosta is an attorney who has worked in government in the past. Andrew Puzder — CEO of the CKE Restaurants fast-food chain, owner of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. — recently withdrew his name from consideration for the same position.
Acosta was assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division under President George W. Bush and is expected to get confirmed fairly easily in comparison to other Trump nominees.
Acosta, who most recently served as Dean of Florida International University College of Law, was a member of the National Labor Relations Board and also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division.
Puzder, Trump’s first choice for the position, ended his bid after domestic abuse allegations surfaced, reportedly courtesy of Oprah Winfrey’s OWN.
On Monday, news emerged via Politico that the Oprah Winfrey Network had provided Democratic and Republican senators with a 1990 episode of “Oprah” that featured Puzder’s former wife, Lisa Fierstein. In the 1990 episode, wearing an elaborate disguise, Fierstein detailed physical abuse she said Puzder inflicted on her during their marriage.
Soon after the report, the video itself was leaked online. In it, Fierstein tells Winfrey that she had been threatened by Puzder for going public with her allegations during their divorce. “I will see you in the gutter,” she claimed Puzder said to her.
Fierstein later recanted her accusations, and has defended Puzder’s nomination.
“I regret my decision to appear on the show … I was hesitant but encouraged by friends and became caught up in the notion of a free trip to Chicago and being a champion of women and women’s issues,” she said in a statement.
In his statement on the matter, Puzder didn’t address the allegations or explain his reasons for withdrawing his name from consideration.