Oversight Committee Invites Meat Mogul Donor To Testify About Health Care Plan

July 28, 2011 11:30 am ET — Brian Powell


After six months of pandering to Big Business and corporate donors, it should come as no surprise that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is once again inviting big Republican spenders to the chambers of his House Oversight Committee. For today's subcommittee hearing, "Impact Of Obamacare On Job Creators And Their Decision To Offer Health Insurance," Issa didn't have to look too far from home for a loyal source.

The first witness on the panel will be fellow Californian Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants (of Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fame). Puzder is the Monster Thickburger of Republican Party donors, shelling out a whopping $56,200 of his own money to Republicans last year alone. The PAC set up for Puzder's company also donated nearly $15,000 to Republicans like Sharron Angle (R-NV) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) during the 2010 cycle.

Contributions aside, the irony of selecting a burger baron like Puzder to testify about anything related to healthy living seems to be lost on the Oversight Committee. After all, Puzder's business strategy for Hardee's and Carl's Jr. unabashedly contributes to the nation's health deficiencies. From Forbes.com columnist Greg Levine:

Amid lawsuits and national panic that U.S. waistlines are expanding like the Chinese trade deficit, the Big Three chains have scrambled to prove they are indeed health-conscious. They've slapped salads and fruit juices on the menus to lure the conscientious.

But Puzder sees salvation through a contrarian strategy: Pleasure, plain and simple. So last year, his firm eschewed nanny-nation morality with its line of Thickburgers. CKE then thumbed its corporate nose at the bluenoses with a saucy ad featuring celebrity bad-girl Paris Hilton, bathing a limousine while passionately devouring beef.

Indeed, Puzder used part of his written testimony to criticize health care reform's requirement that chain restaurants include caloric counts on their menus.

Other witnesses include Victoria J. Braden, the President/CEO at Braden Benefit Strategies, Inc., a "leading edge Healthcare Financing Solutions Company." In addition to her past financial donations to Republicans, Braden's personal blog reveals her partisan proclivities, with posts claiming that "the Obama administration HATES small business" and wondering "why is the Congress is so hell bent on providing answers to the uninsured in America?"

This certainly isn't the first time that Issa has rewarded donors for spreading some dough around; the chairman often solicits governing advice from campaign donors. Last month, his committee held a hearing to defend Boeing, a campaign contributor to at least eleven Oversight Republicans in 2010. Issa has also notoriously invited his personal friend and financial benefactor Tom Nassif to testify before Congress on multiple occasions.

Now Puzder is the one benefitting from the chance to chew the fat with policy-makers on the Congressional Record, and Republican palms are looking a little greasy.