He said it was all part of his plan

Mike Pomranz
March 22, 2017

Thanks to a several of controversies Andy Puzder was unable to secure his new job as Secretary of Labor; instead, Trump’s initial pick for the position decided to withdraw his name before having to face even more scrutiny at a confirmation hearing. Now, Puzder has said he won’t be returning to his old job either: The CEO of CKE Restaurants Holdings – parent company of Carl’s Jr, Hardee’s, Red Burrito and Green Burrito – has announced he’ll be stepping down from the position he’s held atop the fast food giant since 2000.

In a press release from CKE yesterday, Puzder insinuated that the move had little to his upended Labor Secretary nomination. “I expressed my desire to have CKE plan for succession approximately a year ago,” the CEO is quoted as saying. However, the Los Angeles Times spoke to one industry vet who believes the controversial nominee was definitely done in by his dredged up past. “[CKE is] concerned about their perception,” Jeff McNeal, president of restaurant and hospitality consulting firm Fessel International, told the Times. “I don’t think this is anything about the financial performance of the company. It was his failed nomination.” The truth may lie somewhere in the middle: Some sort of succession plan was likely in the works in case Puzder did get confirmed as Secretary of Labor, but this almost certainly isn’t the way he wanted things to pan out.

Concerns over Puzder covered a gamut of issues from business – as CEO of a fast food chain he often butted heads with his own labor force and the chain was even accused of violating labor laws itself – to the personal – an illegally hired housekeeper and decades-old, recanted accusations of spousal abuse. In the end, he was forced to withdraw his name from the nomination last month when it because clear he didn’t quite have enough Republican support to be confirmed.

But don’t bother shedding a tear for Puzder. Despite its undignified ending, his tenure at CKE is generally considered at least a financial success. (“They have done fairly well,” McNeal suggested.)  And even if he isn’t able to land another job immediately, Forbes pegged his net worth at around $45 million, meaning he certainly won’t end up flipping burgers anytime soon.

As for CKE, Jason Marker, who most recently was president of KFC US, will take over as CEO in April. I guess that means the only lingering question is whether CKE will stick with its signature ads featuring bikini clad women chowing down on giant burgers that marked Puzder’s tenure? The world can only hope, right?