I realize I lead a sheltered life in the comfort of Middle Georgia, and I don’t want to downplay the very real issue of spousal abuse, but I am beginning to notice a trend here that does affect and undermine claims of spousal abuse. It is one I have heard lawyers talk about before, but never really believed it. First we had Ivana Trump accusing Donald of rape and now we have Lisa Fierstein, the ex-wife of Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder, going on Oprah’s show to claim he abused her. Both women, or people close to them, now say the accusations were made to beef up divorce settlements, but did not actually happen. And there are other stories of this sort of thing happening in the divorces of the really rich.
I mean I’ve heard about this sort of stuff, but I did not think it was real. Well, now feminist groups are attacking Andrew Puzder for beating up his ex-wife. She even went on Oprah Winfrey’s show back in the 1980’s in disguise to talk about the spousal abuse.
But now she says it was all part of a messy divorce, it didn’t really happen, and they’re friends who’ve even shared Thanksgiving dinner together. That’s not stopping groups opposed to Puzder from using the allegations. To her credit, Lisa Fierstein is publicly coming forward now to defend her ex-husband.
In a brief interview with POLITICO this week, Fierstein called her ex-husband “a terrific guy with a wonderful character.” Court documents show that both agreed to drop abuse charges as part of a 1990 child-custody agreement. That same year, Fierstein wrote Puzder: “All allegations of abuse of any kind were made in the context of divorce proceedings. I fully withdraw these allegations.”
In a follow-up letter the following year, Fierstein wrote: “Our marital relationship deteriorated and events leading to the public humiliation we both endured ensued.”
The reason this is in the news, by the way, is not just Puzder’s confirmation hearing. It’s in the news because Puzder is also exceedingly pro-life and helped write a pro-life measure restriction abortions when a baby is viable outside the womb. As a result, feminist groups feel they must throw everything at him to scuttle his nomination.
I keep hearing stories that the rich have messier divorces with wilder accusations. I guess it’s true. I don’t want to downplay spousal abuse. It’s a real problem. But cry wolf episodes to get more money in divorce proceedings is just an awful thing to do.