Did Oprah Winfrey torpedo Labor Nominee Andrew Puzder? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Did Oprah Winfrey torpedo Labor Nominee Andrew Puzder?

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(NBC) -

(NBC News)

As the White House grapples with the fallout from the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, another controversy for the new administration has emerged: their pick for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Cabinet post.

Puzder, the CEO of the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast food chains, had seen his hearings delayed multiple times because he failed to fill out required financial and ethics forms, and had been under fire for his policy positions (such as opposing a minimum wage increase), his reported history of sexist statements and for hiring an undocumented immigrant to work as his housekeeper.

But another aspect of Puzder's history — involving 30-year-old allegations of domestic abuse against his ex-wife — has begun to take center stage, and that scandal has engulfed an unlikely person — talk show icon and media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

Lisa Fierstein, Puzder's wife from 1973 to 1987, appeared on Winfrey's show in March of 1990 in a segment about "High-Class Battered Women." On the show, Fierstein, in disguise as "Ann," describes alleged abuse by Puzder and its impact on her life.

"I wound up losing everything, everything," Fierstein told Winfrey. "I have nothing. He has a Porsche and a Mercedes-Benz. He has the home. He has everything. He was an attorney and he knew how to play the system." She also claimed that Puzder told her: "I will see you in the gutter. This will never be over, you will pay for this."

According to Politico, she filed a court petition in 1988 alleging that Puzder "assaulted and battered me by striking me violently about the face, chest, back, shoulders and neck, without provocation or cause," and left "bruises and contusions to the chest, back, shoulders and neck" as well as "two ruptured discs and two bulging discs."

A couple months after filing the petition, Fierstein also sought a protective order against Puzder, alleging he "physically assaulted" her and left her with "permanent personal injuries."

Fierstein has since retracted her allegations, writing in an email to Puzder that she only made them because she was counseled to do so.

She also wrote a statement to the Republican National Committee late last year calling Puzder "one of the finest men I have ever known."

"Many years ago I impulsively filed for divorce and was counseled to file allegations that I regretted and subsequently withdrew over 30 years ago. Andy is a wonderful father, a great person, and was a good husband," she wrote. "He and I have long ago worked out any differences that occurred over 30 years ago and I cannot recall a single incident involving the police."

She also told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) that she now regrets appearing on Winfrey's show. "Upon reflection, I believe I became a pawn in the debate and believe strongly that my attorney's advice was tainted as a result of his own personal agenda," she wrote.

Reps for Puzder didn't immediately return requests for comment from NBC News, but he denied the allegations in a deposition at the time and told the St. Louis-based Riverfront Times, "There was no physical abuse at any point in time."

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