Meet Mel Martinez, The New Man Leading JPMorgan's Effort To Take Over Florida

JPMorgan just hired the former chair of the Republican National Committee and a family friend of George Bush’s, Mel Martinez, to head what seems to be part of a big effort to expand the commerical bank in Florida.

Martinez, a native of Cuba, has a good, rags-to-riches, Horatio Alger-style life story:

  • Martinez came to the U.S. as a teenager as part of Operation Pedro Pan, a Catholic Church airlift of children out of the communist country
  • Martinez lived with foster parents, worked his way through Florida State and became a trial lawyer
  • After serving as HUD secretary (2001-2003) he ran for the U.S. Senate and took office in 2004.
  • He was the first Cuban-American to serve in the Senate
  • Chaired the RNC in in 2006-2007

Last year he retired from the Senate and now he’s been hired as a senior adviser to JPMorgan’s Floridian clients – namely corporations, nonprofit organisations and governments.

From Jamie Dimon’s statement, found on Dealbook:

Now he will help JPMorgan Chase continue our expansion to serve the consumers, businesses and communities of Florida and the region.

As far as his reputation goes, Republicans don’t love him. Michelle Malkin, the popular Republican blogger, notes a pledge he made in 2006 not to try too hard to uphold conservative values as RNC Chairman.

And if they are an indication of anything, the commenters on the Washington Post article that announced when Martinez retired from the Florida Senate are mostly filled with animosity towards the Senator and happiness that he’ll be gone:

Whenever either of the Bush brothers walked it was Martinez in their pockets saying, “jingle, jingle, jingle.” He won his seat by a disgracefully negative campaign. Good riddance to a bad hack.

The one group that defends him in the comments seem to be Hispanics:

Many of these comments are ridiculously racist, from both so called liberals and conservatives. I’m Hispanic. He is not a traitor to “Brownskinned” people…

Whatever his reputation, Martinez is obviously well-known and popular enough in Florida. So JPMorgan’s Florida expansion just got a celebrity leader.

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