Patrick Pizzella (Courtesy Photograph)

A Pinehurst man with extensive government service has been named acting U.S. Labor Secretary.

President Donald Trump appointed Patrick Pizzella to the post Friday morning after Alex Acosta announced his resignation amid scrutiny over his handling of the sex abuse case against financier Jeffrey Epstein nearly 12 years ago, when he was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He will step down next Friday.

Pizzella has been serving as the deputy labor secretary since April 2018 after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

“He’s a good man, highly recommended by Alex,” Trump said in a news conference on the south lawn of the White House, with Acosta by his side, before departing for Milwaukee.

The Pilot was unable to reach Pizzella on Friday afternoon. He and his wife, M.J., have a home in Pinehurst, where she is a full-time resident. Both have been active in local affairs.

Patrick Pizzella was among the more vocal opponents of the Greens at Arboretum apartment complex in 2016 as part of a group called Pinehurst Matters that fought unsuccessfully to get the Village Council to rescind its approval of the 72-unit complex.

His wife is a former chairwoman of the Village Heritage Foundation’s Historic Plaque Program, which was launched in early 2016 to recognize the restoration and preservation of local properties. She was traveling to Washington, D.C., Friday and said she was unable to comment publicly about her husband’s appointment.

Pizzella previously served as a member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) after being nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2013, according to his official biography on the Department of Labor website.

President Trump designated Pizzella as acting FLRA chairman in January 2017, a position he held until that Dec. 8.

Prior to joining the FLRA, Pizzella was a principal at Patrick Pizzella LLC. He served as assistant secretary of labor for administration and management from 2001 to 2009. Pizzella was designated by President George W. Bush to serve as a member of the board of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation from January 2004 to April 26. 

Previously, he worked at Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds LLP, as a government affairs counselor, from 1998 to 2001; and director of coalitions from 1996 to 997. From 1990 to 1995, Pizzella was director of the Office of Administration at the Federal Housing Finance Board, and from 1988 to 1989, deputy undersecretary for management at the U.S. Department of Education. 

He has previously held positions at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the U.S. General Services Administration. 

Pizzella received a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina. He is a graduate of Iona Preparatory School, and a native of New Rochelle, N.Y.

His wife, ironically, is a third-generation graduate of Clemson University. The Pizzellas’ collegiate rivalry is well-known among their circle of friends in Pinehurst.

Like her husband, M.J. Pizzella also has an extensive background in government service and the private sector.

She is a former senior business development executive for Google Inc., where she worked for nearly seven years before retiring in 2013.

Prior to working for Google, she served in the Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and George W. Bush administrations. Her service included positions as director of public affairs and press secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy; assistant administrator for the Office of Communications and Citizen Services, U.S. General Services Administration; and aide to the ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

She has also held positions as vice president for communications at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

(3) comments

Comment deleted.
Suzanne Martin

Well he will certainly fit right in with the current administration. Sounds charming

Diane Galusky

Remarkably for a man about to run the Labor Department, Pizzella is a former sweatshop lobbyist. As Judy Conti of the National Employment Law Project noted in 2018, “He has a lengthy and well-documented history as a highly-paid lobbyist who advocated to perpetuate conditions for workers in the Northern Mariana Islands that were nothing short of indentured servitude.” Conti is referring to Pizzella’s employment from 1996 until 2001 at the law firm Preston Gates. During those years Pizzella worked extensively with now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff to push against attempts to regulate wages and immigration on the Northern Mariana Islands, a group of 14 islands that enjoyed an anomalous legal status as American territories. They were allowed to set their own wages and immigration law—a loophole the local government used to promote industries like construction and garment manufacturing by promising cheap labor to big business. Recruiting tens of thousands of workers from China, the Philippines, and Bangladesh, companies operating in the Northern Mariana Islands made clothes that said “Made in America” but were in fact created in a legal netherworld where employees enjoyed few of the rights of Americans. They were guest workers who in their home countries often had to pay for the privilege of getting the job and so started in debt to their employers. Their contracts frequently stipulated that they couldn’t unionize, take part in politics, have boyfriends or children. There were reports of forced abortions conducted in back alleys. Risking deportation if they complained about their conditions, the workers lived in veritable prisons surrounded by barbed wire fences.

Kent Misegades

He will surely be an improvement over former Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, whom I met a few years ago. He seemed OK, but has really changed since becoming head of the DNC.

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