WASHINGTON - President-elect Donald Trump plans to add another wealthy business person and elite donor to his cabinet, saying he would nominate fast-food executive Andrew Puzder as Labor secretary.
Puzder heads CKE Restaurants Holdings, the parent company of Carl's Jr., Hardee's and other chains. In 2010, he published a book called Job Creation: How it Really Works and Why Government Doesn't Understand It.
"Andy will fight to make American workers safer and more prosperous by enforcing fair occupational safety standards and ensuring workers receive the benefits they deserve, and he will save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages," Trump said in a statement.
Puzder, in the same statement, said he was honored "to help President-elect Trump restore America's global economic leadership."
The Californian was one of Trump's earliest campaign financiers, serving as a cochairman of his California finance team and organizing fund-raisers well before most major donors got on board with the eventual Republican nominee.
Together with his wife, Puzder contributed $150,000 in late May to Trump's campaign and Republican Party partners, fund-raising records show.
As one of Trump's most outspoken defenders, Puzder frequently appeared on cable news and Twitter to talk up the benefits of having a business leader in the White House.
A week after Trump's election, Puzder said he agreed with Trump's aim to ease business regulations.
"We've reached the point where overregulation is doing meaningful damage to our businesses," he said last month at the Restaurant Finance and Development Conference in Las Vegas, citing high labor costs, increased health-care costs and "political and social" policies as hindrances.
Union leaders decried Puzder as a secretary who would look out for millionaires - but not workers.
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement that Puzder's "business record is defined by fighting against working people."
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said there's reason to be skeptical about Puzder.
"Turning the Labor Department over to someone who opposes an increase in the minimum wage, opposes the overtime rule that would raise middle class wages, and whose businesses have repeatedly violated labor laws might be the surest sign yet that the next cabinet will be looking out for the billionaires and special interests, instead of America's working class," Schumer said in a statement.
Trump's selection won praise from the National Retail Federation, however.
"Andrew Puzder is someone with the real-world experience to understand workforce issues and how jobs are created," said David French, NRF's senior vice president for government relations.
Trump's recent appointments have reflected his desire to turn to business leaders - who also were campaign donors. Trump tapped former WWE chief executive and top campaign contributor Linda McMahon to lead the Small Business Administration.
He also selected his campaign's national finance chairman Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive and hedge fund investor, as Treasury secretary.
In the midst of his cabinet deliberations, Trump flew to Ohio Thursday to meet with victims and families after the latest U.S. outbreak of violence, a somber duty that became all too familiar to his predecessor.
In Columbus, Trump met with those who had been attacked by a knife-wielding Ohio State University student and had words of tribute for astronaut and senator John Glenn of Ohio - "indeed an American hero" - who died Thursday at 95. Then he was off to Des Moines, Iowa, for the latest stop on his victory tour of states that helped him win the election.
"The script is not yet written. We do not know what the page will read tomorrow. But for the first time in a long time we know the pages will be authored by each and every one of you," said Trump, who mixed in promises to heal a divided nation with boasts about the size of his victories, from the early primaries to last month's defeat of Hillary Clinton.
Trump also brought Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad onstage and praised his pick to be the next ambassador to China, saying Branstad "knew how to get things done" and would improve "one of the most important relationships we have."
Trump flew to Columbus to meet with several people who were slashed by Ohio State student Abdul Razak Ali Artan.
Artan, 18, first rammed a campus crowd with his car before getting out with a knife and stabbing students before being fatally shot by police. The president-elect spent about 30 minutes with some of the victims and their families.
"These are great people, amazing people," said Trump, who also paid tribute to the first responders who tended to the victims and shot the attacker. "The families have come through this so well."
It was also revealed Thursday that even after Trump moves into the Oval Office, he will retain an executive producer credit on the reality show Celebrity Apprentice.
The news, which was first reported by Variety, raised questions about a conflict of interest since Trump will have an interest in a show broadcast on NBC while he is being covered by the network's news division.