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Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder’s confirmation could be in jeopardy following the release of a 1990 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show in which Puzder’s ex-wife makes claims of domestic abuse against him. A clip from the episode, which is currently being reviewed in the Senate, was published by Politico on Wednesday.
Lisa Fierstein used the alias “Ann” and wears a wig and sunglasses in the episode, entitled “High Class Battered Women.”
“The most frightening thing was leaving, because once I made that break and once I made it public, and remember my ex-husband was a public figure and everyone knew him and knew what he was doing, and once I made that public, he vowed revenge,” alleged Fierstein. “He said, ‘I will see you in the gutter. This will never be over. You will pay for this.’
Puzder has repeatedly denied allegations of domestic abuse. The couple divorced in 1987. Eight months after Fierstein’s Oprah appearance, Politico reports she retracted past abuse allegations as part of a child custody agreement. In a letter she wrote last month to the senators on the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, Fierstein said, “I regret my decision to appear on that show.” She said she was asked to appear on the domestic abuse panel and became “caught up in the notion of a free trip to Chicago and being a champion of women and women’s issues.”
In the video clip, Fierstein talks about how difficult it is when people don’t believe allegations of abuse and said there were moments where she was in denial and could “barely believe it” herself.
“Most men who are in positions like that don’t leave marks,” she said. “The damage that I’ve sustained, you can’t see. It’s permanent, permanent damage. But there’s no mark. And there never was. They never hit you in the face. They’re too smart. They don’t hit you in front of everyone. The judicial system would say that,’Were there any witnesses?’ No, come on. They know better.”
Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. He is also under scrutiny for admitting he employed an undocumented immigrant.
In a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week, Winfrey’s OWN network said it made approximately 20 episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show about domestic violence available to the HELP committee as part of its confidential investigation into a Cabinet nominee. The network did not provide “information about the identities of anyone who appeared in these episodes.”
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