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Andy Puzder, President Trump’s labor secretary nominee, is facing fierce criticism over his time at the helm of CKE Restaurants, but former employees and Republicans are coming to his defense as his nomination continues to languish in a bitterly divided Senate.

Puzder’s allies say the attacks are part of a broader effort to unravel the president’s Cabinet at the confirmation stage. Democrats have deployed a variety of tactics, from boycotting committee votes to demanding hours of debate on the Senate floor in their quest to blockade the confirmations of all but a handful of Trump’s nominees.

Trump’s pick to lead the Labor Department, a 20-year veteran of the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., has faced allegations of sexism stemming from a series of racy cheeseburger commercials aired in 2005, as well as rumors of harassment at restaurants under his purview.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and former chief economist at the Labor Department, said Puzder’s record has been “mischaracterized.”

“Democrats are out to get him,” Furchtgott-Roth told the Washington Examiner. “They are putting up more and more roadblocks. They have got the hearing delayed multiple times.”

Furchtgott-Roth, who served on Trump’s Labor Department “landing team” during the transition, said the next labor secretary’s most important job will be to raise the labor force participation rate. She predicted Puzder could accomplish that.

“Andy Puzder is a very principled man. He sees the problems caused by excessive regulation in the Labor Department,” she said. “He has run a business. He has experienced some of these impediments firsthand.”

Some executives from his former company are speaking out in favor of Puzder, arguing the fast food mogul never displayed the misogyny described by his detractors.

“I have been with CKE for 35 years and there has never been a position that I didn’t think I could apply for because I am a woman,” said Vicki Egidi, vice president of franchise operations at CKE. “No position at CKE is looked upon as a man’s job only. CKE is a great place to work and much of that is credited to Andy.”

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Cheryl Soper, vice president of benefits for CKE, said Puzder is “always very respectful to women.”

“I have been in many meetings with him, and he doesn’t treat anyone differently – man or woman,” said Soper, who has been at the company for 13 years. “A large part of my success is due to Andy’s overall company directive to promote from within.”

Flor Palacios, CKE’s former director of operations for the Los Angeles market, wrote in an op-ed for the Orange County Register that Puzder’s management style allowed her to climb through the ranks of his multi-million dollar company from a position at a Carl’s Jr. salad bar to a regional managerial position.

“His philosophy was that if you take care of your employees and franchisees, they will take care of the customer, which will take care of the bottom line,” Palacios wrote.

Republican figures, including Allen West, have also voiced support of Puzder amid Democratic opposition.

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Trump’s labor secretary nominee is widely credited with reversing the fortunes of the flagging Hardee’s brand after CKE purchased it in 1997.

But he still faces stiff opposition from progressives who fear he will undo the policies sought by former President Barack Obama’s active Labor Department.

For example, Puzder has argued that unions discourage job creation by “increasing the cost of labor without increasing its value.” He has drawn scrutiny for opposing the $15 hourly minimum wage sought by fast food workers and their advocates, although he has expressed support for the idea of more modest and nuanced increases to the minimum wage.

Unions have organized demonstrations against Puzder, in some cases staging protests in front of Hardee’s or Carl’s Jr. locations.

Beyond the resistance to his record and positions, Puzder has also faced difficulties in navigating the complicated vetting procedures required of every Cabinet nominee.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee rescheduled his confirmation hearing several times before delaying it indefinitely.

“The committee will not officially notice a confirmation hearing with Mr. Puzder until the committee has received his paperwork from the Office of Government Ethics,” an aide to Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, told the Washington Examiner.

A congressional source said Republicans are taking their time with Puzder because they’re looking to avoid the kinds of roadblocks that have plagued other nominees.

The difficulties have reportedly sprouted from Puzder’s attempts to divest himself from his business interests to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

Furchtgott-Roth suggested someone with a private sector record like Puzder’s would naturally face a more complex divesting process.

“I’m sure that when you have as complicated interests as Andy Puzder, it’s always difficult, but I think that the delays are somewhat extreme,” she said. “It’s always possible to ask for more and more paperwork in order to delay the process.”

Puzder encountered a fresh stumbling block on Monday when the Huffington Post revealed that he had inadvertently hired an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper. He reportedly terminated the woman, offered to help her acquire legal status, and paid back taxes on her employment to the IRS upon learning about her situation.

It’s unclear whether the revelation will affect Puzder’s confirmation proceedings given that Democrats have already expended significant time and energy fighting against the nominee over other issues.

But Puzder will likely be among the last officials to get confirmed to Trump’s Cabinet thanks to the delays.

And if Senate Democrats fail to sink any other nominees before then, despite high-profile efforts to block the confirmation of Trump education secretary pick Betsy DeVos and several others, they could be hungry to notch a victory by the time Puzder’s confirmation comes to a vote.

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