Andy Puzder, Secretary of Labor
BIOGRAPHY: Fast-food executive. Puzder started his career as a corporate lawyer in St. Louis. Carl Karcher, founder of the Carl’s Jr. restaurant chain, was facing serious financial difficulties and asked him to become his personal attorney. After successfully resolving Karcher’s problems, Puzder eventually became executive vice president of CKE, which owns the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains. In 2000, he became president and CEO.
CORPORATE TIES: CKE Restaurants.
CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: Major donor. Puzder has donated more than $1.3 million to Republican candidates over the years, plus another $7,859 to Democratic candidates. In the 2016 Republican primary, he backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. He gave $10,000 to Rebuilding America Now, a pro-Trump super PAC, gave $75,000 to a Trump joint fundraising committee with the RNC, and he and his wife gave $5,400 to Trump directly in 2016.
LOBBYING: Employed lobbyists. CKE has not lobbied the federal government much, spending only $30,000 on lobbying in 2008.
Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy
BIOGRAPHY: Former Texas governor. After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, Perry served in the Texas House of Representatives, then as agriculture commissioner and lieutenant governor. After then-Gov. George W. Bush resigned to become president in 2000, Perry became governor, a position he held until 2015. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 2012, memorably forgetting the Department of Energy at a debate, and again in 2016.
CORPORATE TIES: Sunoco Logistics Partners, Energy Transfer Partners. In 2015, Perry joined the board of directors of Sunoco Logistics Partners, which transports and stores oil, and the board of Energy Transfer Partners, a natural gas pipeline company that is parent to the company behind the controversial Dakota Access pipeline. He earned more than $365,000 in 2015 for sitting on the two boards.
CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: Veteran fundraiser. His 2012 presidential campaign raised $19.7 million and was backed by $5.6 million from a super PAC. His 2016 campaign raised $1.4 million and was backed by $15.2 million from various super PACs. He also raised more than $116.6 million in his campaigns for lieutenant governor and governor in Texas. He has not donated to federal candidates.
Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce
BIOGRAPHY: Billionaire investor. A native of New Jersey, Ross became an expert on bankruptcy while working for the investment bank Rothschild Inc. In 2000, he started his own private equity firm, WL Ross and Company, and became known as the “King of Bankruptcy” for investing in failing steel and mining companies and turning them around at a profit. He sold his firm to Invesco in 2006.
CORPORATE TIES: WL Ross and Company, Invesco, International Coal Group. Ross also sits on the boards of ArcelorMittal (the world’s largest steel company,) Exco Resources (an oil and gas company,) Nexeo Solutions (an industrial chemical and plastics distributor,) and two banks: the Bank of Cyprus and Sun National Bank.
LOBBYING: Employed lobbyists. Ross sits on many corporate boards with hundreds of lobbying priorities. Between WL Ross & Company, Invesco, International Coal Group and ArcelorMittal, Ross’s companies have spent more than $17.4 million lobbying the federal government.
David Shulkin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
BIOGRAPHY: Veterans Affairs deputy. Currently, Sulking serves as under-secretary for Veterans Affairs under President Obama. Before that, he was a physician and ran hospital systems, and served as the Chairman of the Board of New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals.
CORPORATE TIES: Morristown Medical Center, Atlantic Health System, Beth Israel Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania Health System. Shulkin was President of the Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey, Vice President of the Atlantic Health System, and CEO of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. He was also the Chief Medical Officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: He’s donated $3,600 over the course of his lifetime, mostly to Democratic candidates. His most recent donation was in 2014.
Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Interior
BIOGRAPHY: First-term Congressman. After earning a degree in geology from the University of Oregon, Zinke served as a Navy SEAL from 1986 to 2008. In 2014, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives at-large seat in Montana after campaigning on a platform of North American energy independence. In Congress, he served on the House Natural Resources Committee.
CORPORATE TIES: STWA. In 2012, while still a state Senator, Zinke joined the board of STWA, a company which develops oil and gas delivery systems. He does not currently appear to be on the board.
CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: Fundraiser. In his two campaigns for Congress, Zinke raised $10.2 million. A leadership PAC, Supporting American Leaders, raised another $3 million in the 2016 cycle. Zinke has not given any of his own money to federal candidates, but his leadership PAC gave $54,200 to members of Congress, nearly all Republicans.
LOBBYING: No known lobbying activity