AKA Melquiades Rafael Martinez
Birthplace: Sagua La Grande, Cuba
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: Hispanic
Sexual orientation: Straight
Party Affiliation: Republican
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: US Senator from Florida, 2005-09
Mel Martinez was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for most of President George W. Bush's first term, and won election as America's first Cuban-American Senator in 2004. He was named General Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Mike Duncan was named Chairman in November 2006 after Ken Mehlman resigned the position. Martinez was expected to serve through the 2008 election, but resigned in October 2007.
He fled Cuba as a teenager to escape President Fidel Castro's government, and has built his political base in Florida around his opposition to communist Cuba. A trial lawyer by trade, Martinez was President of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers in the 1980s, and he was Chairman of Florida's Orange County when he took 6-year-old Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez on a well-publicized trip to Disney World. Running for Senate in 2004, a Martinez memo referred to Janet Reno's federal agents who seized the boy to return him his father as "armed thugs".
Martinez' Senate seat is largely the work of operative Karl Rove. Because his opponent, Bill McCollum, supported an anti-hate crimes bill, Martinez was able to paint McCollum as a tool of the "radical homosexual lobby" and "the new darling of the homosexual extremists". Never mind that two critical members of Martinez' staff have been named by newspapers as gay -- Kirk Fordham (finance director), and John Dowless.
In 2005, an anonymous memo surfaced purporting to contain Republican strategies to exploit victim Terri Schiavo's predicament. "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue." Republicans immediately blamed the "liberal media" for this seemingly-fabricated memo, until Mel Martinez' legal counsel, Brian Darling, stepped forward as author of the memo. His resignation was accepted immediately.
As of late 2006, the 2004 Martinez for Senate campaign is still under investigation by the Federal Elections Commission for allegedly lying about its debt and taking illegal corporate contributions. Martinez himself is widely perceived as being up to his neck in the ongoing Jack Abramoff scandals.
In a controversy that was little reported in America but received widespread coverage in many other nations, Martinez' brother Rafael "Ralph" Martinez was appointed as America's human rights representative to the Organization of American States. He is a medical malpractice lawyer with virtually no experience in human rights matters, and since his nomination was rejected in 2003, the US has had no representative on what is widely perceived as the most respected human rights monitoring group in the Western Hemisphere.
Father: Melquiades Martinez (veterinarian)
Mother: Gladys Martinez (homemaker)
Brother: Rafael E. Martinez ("Ralph", malpractice attorney)
Sister: Margarita (d., brain cancer)
Wife: Kathryn Tindal ("Kitty", one daughter, two sons)
Daughter: Lauren Martinez-Shea (adopted, b. 1977)
Son: John Martinez (attorney, b. 1981)
Son: Andrew Martinez (b. 1994)
High School: Bishop Moore High School, Orlando, FL (1964)
University: AA, Orlando Junior College, Orlando, FL (1967)
University: BA, Florida State University (1969)
Law School: JD, Florida State University College of Law (1973)
DLA Piper Lobbyist (2009-)
US Senator, Florida (3-Jan-2005 to 9-Sep-2009, resigned)
US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (2001-03)
Florida State Official Chairman, Orange County Government (1998-2001)
Akerman Senterfitt of Counsel (1998-2001)
Martinez & Dalton Partner (1989-98)
Connor & Martinez Partner (1986-89)
Wooten, Honeywell, Kest & Martinez Partner (1976-86)
Billings, Frederick, Wooten & Honeywell Associate (1973-76)
Member of the Board of La-Z-Boy (2004-05)
Florida Bar 1973
George W. Bush for President
John Carroll Society Honorary Member
Republican National Committee General Chairman (2006-07)
Naturalized US Citizen
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