For Andrew Puzder, Labor Nominee, Fighting for Owners’ Interests Began Early – The New York Times


 

The year was 1983, and Mr. Puzder was working at a law firm owned by a famous mob lawyer and casino owner whom the Labor Department accused of squandering $25 million from his union workers’ pension funds on sham investments.

It fell to Mr. Puzder to lead the defense, which he framed in aggressively antigovernment terms. In his opening statement, Mr. Puzder told the jury it was not his boss’s fault for not paying back the money — it was overzealous regulators in Washington who had killed off a good business deal by intervening before his investments could succeed, he said.

“We should not be required to pay for the mistakes of the Department of Labor” and the union, Mr. Puzder said, according to The Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Continue reading the main story

The year was 1983, and Mr. Puzder was working at a law firm owned by a famous mob lawyer and casino owner whom the Labor Department accused of squandering $25 million from his union workers’ pension funds on sham investments.

It fell to Mr. Puzder to lead the defense, which he framed in aggressively antigovernment terms. In his opening statement, Mr. Puzder told the jury it was not his boss’s fault for not paying back the money — it was overzealous regulators in Washington who had killed off a good business deal by intervening before his investments could succeed, he said.

“We should not be required to pay for the mistakes of the Department of Labor” and the union, Mr. Puzder said, according to The Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Continue reading the main story

The jury did not buy it. Mr. Puzder’s boss, Morris A. Shenker, was hit with a $34 million judgment and filed for bankruptcy.

More than three decades later, the lawyers who represented the Labor Department in the case recall Mr. Puzder as bright and capable, but they still marvel that he blamed government regulators.

“I personally find there is some irony in him being nominated to be the secretary of labor,” said Daly D. E. Temchine, the lead lawyer in the case for the Department of Labor. “Back then, he represented a guy who thought it was O.K. to screw his employees.”

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