While Justice Brett Kavanaugh made it through the confirmation process, my dad didn’t. His nomination was defeated because of completely unsupported abuse allegations.
October 3, 2019
While I don’t know them personally, I can’t help but feel empathy for Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s two young daughters, Margaret and Liza. I’m sure it’s hard for them to understand why anyone would attempt to humiliate someone they know is a wonderful man, all based on something even the attackers know is a lie.
I suspect that, like me, Margaret and Liza never thought they would have a famous father, or that anything so terrible could happen to him as it has to all three of us. My father certainly wasn’t famous when I was growing up, but he is now. He’s Andy Puzder. He’s often in the press talking or writing about ideas to help American workers. My dad comes from a working-class background; he worked his way through law school and later became the CEO of a big company and President Trump’s first choice to be America’s secretary of labor.
While Justice Kavanaugh made it through the confirmation process, my dad didn’t. His nomination was defeated because of abuse allegations that, like those against Justice Kavanaugh, were not only unsupported but admittedly false. All of dad’s six kids knew they were false, and both dad’s wife and his ex-wife, who is my mother, knew and publicly said they were false. No one who talked to any of us or who cared about the truth would have repeated these false claims.
But that didn’t stop the mainstream media from repeating them. To everyone who has never been through anything like this but tries to make sense of what’s happening every day: If you’re looking for the truth, you can no longer trust the mainstream media. They don’t care about it. Maybe they care about money, or helping their political friends, or promoting a political agenda, or 15 minutes of fame, but they don’t value the truth for its own sake. And they don’t care about the families, including the young children, of those they falsely accuse.
The New York Times recently proved the point. This time it was a former Clinton lawyer who claimed Justice Kavanaugh engaged in inappropriate conduct while in college. The Times ran the story but failed to note that the alleged victim never substantiated the claim and her friends stated she did not recall any such incident. After publication, the Times was compelled to issue a correction that would have humbled any news organization capable of humility.
Here’s what happened to our family. My mom and dad divorced more than 30 years ago. It was a tough time. They were raising the three of us, trying to protect us while facing a failed marriage, and trying to make ends meet. Mom was afraid about the future and angry about the past. She has publicly admitted that her attorney used “‘adult abuse’ as a vehicle get leverage in our divorce proceeding,” a decision that has “haunted” her ever since.
She said that my father had been physically abusive. Mom knew that wasn’t true. We all knew it wasn’t true. I was then about the age of Justice Kavanaugh’s daughters and I remember those days vividly. Mom and dad argued a lot, but there was never any violence or threat of violence. None.
Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer recently admitted that “abortion rights” were part of what motivated her client to make her unsubstantiated allegations last year. They wanted to put “an asterisk” next to Kavanaugh’s name in case he voted to limit abortion. It sounded all too familiar to me.
My dad was involved as an attorney in the pro-life movement in St. Louis in the 1980s. He even authored part of a pro-life law the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upheld. My mom hired a divorce attorney who was pro-choice. She came to believe that her attorney’s political views influenced him when he encouraged her to file abuse charges against my dad.
Unlike Ford, and to mom’s credit, she recanted the charges shortly afterwards, in 1990, and she has set the record straight on numerous occasions since. After dad was nominated for the cabinet, mom did everything she could to keep her mistake from hurting dad and all of his children.
Most people wouldn’t publicly admit their private wrongs, but mom has done so on a number of occasions. She even sent a long, heartfelt letter to the Senate saying “Andy is not and was not abusive or violent. He is a good, loving, and kind man, and a deeply committed and loving father.” I can tell you for certain that is the truth.
Everyone makes bad decisions, and in divorces they can make some very bad decisions. Mom made up for her mistake more than 25 years ago, but she—and all the rest of us in the family—have had to endure the embarrassment of watching the media trot it out again and again, because they disagree with my dad, fear his influence, and don’t have the decency to stick to honest arguments against him.
Unfortunately, Justice Kavanaugh’s daughters will endure much of the same in the coming years and for many of the same reasons. Like me, they will have to live with the smears against their father and family for the rest of their lives, through no fault of their father’s or their own. But the more important thing is that they have a father with character and courage, who despite his enemies’ sickening behavior will continue to stand up for what he believes.
And, I’m proud to say, so do I.
Vanessa Puzder Kohorst is a graduate of The Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising at Kent State University and lives with her husband Joe in Nashville, Tennessee.
Photo Wall Street Journal / screenshot