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Mel Martinez

Melquiades Rafael Martinez (born October 23, 1946) served as the 12th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, under President George W. Bush, from January 24, 2001 to December 12, 2003, when he resigned after being urged by Karl Rove to run for the U.S. Senate from Florida. Martinez has close ties to the Bush family, serving as co-chairman of George W. Bush's U.S. presidential election, 2000 campaign in Florida.

Born in Sagua La Grande, Cuba, Martinez came to the United States in 1962 as part of a Catholic humanitarian effort called Operation Peter Pan that eventually brought 14,000 children into the country. Catholic charitable groups provided Martinez, who was alone and spoke virtually no English, a temporary home at two youth facilities. He subsequently lived with two foster families. He was reunited with his family in Orlando in 1966.

Martinez graduated from Florida State University College of Law in 1973. During his 25 years of law practice in Orlando, he was actively involved in community activities. He served as Vice President of the Board of Catholic Charities of the Orlando Diocese, and he has a deep appreciation for the work of faith-based social service agencies that goes back to his arrival in the USA almost 40 years ago.

Before becoming Secretary of HUD, Martinez was the elected Chairman of Orange County, Florida, in Orlando, and served on the Governor's Growth Management Study Commission. He previously served as President of the Orlando Utilities Commission, on the board of directors of a community bank, and as Chairman of the Orlando Housing Authority. Martinez was one of the 25 electors from Florida who voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 election.

Martinez and his wife have three children and a granddaughter. He is the brother of Rafael E. Martinez.

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