Geoff Burr spent much of the last decade as the chief lobbyist for a powerful construction industry trade group. Burrsought to influence a host of regulations of the Department of Labor, opposing wage standards for federal construction contracts and working against an effort to limit workers’ exposure to dangerous silica dust.
In the Obama administration, someone like Burr would have been barred by ethics rules from taking a job at an agency that he had lobbied.
In the Trump administration, Burr now has a top job at the Labor Department.
Burr is the first publicly known example of a former lobbyist who was able to take a job in the government as a result of President Donald Trump’s watering down of ethics rules in place during the Obama administration.
THE COMPANY RUN by Andy Puzder, who President Trump has nominated for secretary of labor, ran an illegal wage-fixing scheme for managers at his company’s restaurants, according to a class-action lawsuit filed in California superior court last week.
Puzder is the CEO of the vast Carl Karcher Enterprises (CKE) fast-food chain. One former and one current Carl’s Jr. shift leader allege that franchisees – which Puzder has repeatedly described as independent businesses — colluded with one another to prevent managers from moving between restaurants.
As alleged, the scheme also appears to violate federal law under the Sherman Antitrust Act, as an illegal restraint of trade. That would be a felony punishable by a $1 million fine and up to 10 years in prison for individuals charged.
For Puzder, the lawsuit adds to a growing list of concerns heading into his Thursday confirmation hearing. Puzder, who has not secured the support of enough Republicans to guarantee his confirmation, delayed his hearing four times to get his financial disclosures in order; admitted to employing an undocumented housekeeper; and worked under the tutelage of a notorious mob lawyer. His ex-wife appeared on Oprah in disguise in the 1990s to discuss domestic violence incidents in their marriage; senators in both parties have viewed the footage, and divorce records, which include additional allegations of assault, were unsealed on Tuesday.