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Who is R. Alexander Acosta, Trump's labor secretary pick?

Trump announces Acosta

Donald Trump’s new Labor secretary nominee, Alexander Acosta, has little in common with the former nominee, Andrew Puzder.

Acosta, the dean of Florida International University Law School, is a Harvard-trained lawyer who has served as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Acosta was the first Hispanic who held the rank of assistant attorney general.

According to the Florida International University (FLU) website, Acosta is also the chairman of U.S. Century Bank, which is the largest domestically-owned Hispanic community bank in Florida. 

U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta talks to reporters during a news conference in Miami, Sept. 17, 2008. ASSOCIATED PRESS, Alan Diaz

He also served on the National Labor Relations Board for a year, from 2002 to 2003, as a Republican member of the board under President George W. Bush. The FLU website also notes that Acosta “participated in or authored” over 125 opinions.

As a candidate who who has been Senate-confirmed three times — a point that the president raised when he announced Acosta’s nomination — Acosta seems unlikely to face the same obstacles to confirmation faced by Puzder, who withdrew Wednesday, after it was apparent that he might not muster the Republican support necessary to be confirmed. 

Puzder, the CKE Restaurants CEO, withdrew his name from the Cabinet nomination, following a drawn-out confirmation process plagued by scandal. He had faced scrutiny over several controversies, including his admission that he and his wife had employed an undocumented immigrant for housework and his messy public divorce from three decades ago. 

Puzder’s past had been called into question over the last few days, after Politico published a 1990 episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” where Puzder’s ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, accused him of domestic abuse. Puzder denied the charges and Fierstein retracted her accounts in the months after the episode aired. 

Several Republicans on the Senate HELP committee would not commit to voting for Puzder’s confirmation.

Reena Flores contributed to this report

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