July 15, 2013

Movers & Shakers

Ferre appointed to Metropolitan Planning Organization in Miami-Dade

 Former Miami Mayor Maurice  Ferre, a Democrat who supported Rick Scott in the 2010 gubernatorial race after losing his own bid for the U.S. Senate, has been appointed by the governor to the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Miami-Dade County.

Ferré, 78, succeeds Maritza Gutierrez.

Miami attorney named Bondi's associate deputy for legal policy

Nilda R. Pedrosa has been appointed by Attorney General Pam Bondi to serve as associate deputy attorney general for legal policy, based in Miami. Pedrosa’s previous positions include chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart; a senior policy advisor to former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez; and assistant dean at Florida International University College of Law. Attorney Pedrosa is a Miami native and graduate of FIU and New England Law.

New appointments to Children’s Trust board in Miami-Dade 

Scott made three appointments to the Children's Trust governing board in Miami-Dade County.

Marissa Leichter, 36, of Surfside, the senior program attorney with the Guardian Ad Litem Program, succeeds Benjamin F. Gilbert Jr.

Trudy Novicki, 62, of Miami, the executive director of Krisiti House, Inc., succeeds Pamela Lillard.

Kadie Black, 30, of Miami, the external affairs director for Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc., succeeds Jose Gregoire.

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December 13, 2012

Mel Martinez on higher taxes: “Republicans are going to have to swallow the pill."

Florida’s former senator and a one-time head of the national Republican Party, Mel Martinez, said Thursday that members of his own party need to get ready to go along with higher taxes.

“Republicans are going to have to swallow the pill they don’t want to swallow,” Martinez said on a conference call with reporters about the effects of the so-called “fiscal cliff” debt talks in Washington.

But, Martinez said, Democrats also need to “confront the most-ardent of their supporters” as well. They need to help tackle the “elephant in the room:” entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

If there’s no debt deal between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, Martinez warned, tax increases will rise on everyone, federal programs will be cut, recession could ensue and, according to a defense-industry study, Florida could lose 80,000 jobs.

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January 25, 2012

Romney's Hispanic leadership team: Newt, pull down your ad. Gingrich: I will

In the wake of Sen. Marco Rubio's denunciation of Newt Gingrich's ad calling Mitt Romney 'anti-immigrant,' the Romney campaign's Hispanic leadership team -- headlined by former Sen. Mel Martinez -- is demanding that Gingrich pull down the radio spot.

But Gingrich already plans to do it.

"We respect Senator Rubio tremendously and will remove the ad from the rotation. We will replace it with a positive message that will continue to focus on drawing contrast between our clear vision on the issues important to the hispanic community and our oponnents lack thereof," Gingrich's Florida campaign chairman, Jose Mallea, said.

Here's the letter from Romney's team:

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October 21, 2011

Mel Martinez weighs in on Marco Rubio-WaPo dispute

Former Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, himself a Cuban exile, has come to Sen. Marco Rubio's defense in his dispute with a Washington Post article that says Rubio embellished facts about his parents' move from Cuba to the U.S.

Martinez came to the U.S. from Cuba in 1962 at age 15 as part of operation Pedro Pan, which helped about 14,000 Cuban children flee Castro's regime. Martinez served in the U.S. Senate from 2005 to 2009:

"The recent Washington Post story regarding Senator Rubio’s parents and their immigration from Cuba shows a gross lack of understanding about the Cuban exile experience," he said. "The fact is that they would not have left Cuba permanently if not for extreme fear of persecution and in search of freedom, like so many of us did."

"I lived this experience myself in Cuba – through the revolution and the communist takeover. To diminish the courage of Senator Rubio’s parents and to assert their reason for fleeing Cuba was unrelated to the oppression of a tyrannical and cruel communist dictatorship is wrong." 

Meanwhile, the Washingotn Post's ombudsman gave readers a forum to ask questions of the piece's author, Manuel Roig-Franzia, and its editor, Kevin Merida. 

December 01, 2010

Mel Martinez surfaces in Wikileaks

The former Florida senator apparently had a role in a U.S. bid to stop Spain's torture probe of six senior Bush officials.

Read it here.

The Guardian says a "major worry" for the Bush administration was a torture case brought by a Spanish "non-governmental organisation against six senior Bush administration officials, including the former
attorney general Alberto Gonzales."

Martinez, it says, "visited the Spanish foreign ministry to warn the investigation would have
consequences. " Martinez and the charge underscored that the prosecutions would ... have an
enormous impact on the bilateral relationship," the officials reported.

September 10, 2010

Mel Martinez: One of the new "It girls?"

The New York Times writes about how some prominent lobbying and trade industry groups are looking to bring aboard Republicans in the event the party takes control of Congress in the fall.

Among those highlighted, Martinez, the former Florida senator who quit during his first term last year and is one of at least a dozen recent hires at JPMorgan Chase, where he serves as a senior executive.

"We’re seeing a premium for Republicans," Ivan H. Adler, a headhunter for the McCormick Group in Washington who specializes in placing lobbyists, told the Times. "They’re the new ‘It’ girl."

July 20, 2010

Mario Diaz-Balart names a new chief

Mario Diaz-Balart, who switched to his brother Lincoln's congressional seat, is naming Cesar Gonzalez, Lincoln Diaz-Balart's legislative director, as chief of staff.

"He brings knowledge of the legislative process, experience in the political arena, and years of public service to the residents of South Florida," Diaz-Balart said of Gonzalez. "Cesar has proven to be loyal, dedicated and committed to ensuring that the needs of our constituents are well represented in Washington and that our community continues to thrive. I cannot think of a greater fit to lead my office than him."

Gonzalez was Lincoln Diaz-Balart's top legislative and legal counsel, managing the policy team and overseeing the legislative agenda, with a concentration on judiciary, telecommunications, healthcare and
immigration. The Miami native also held positions as an AARP attorney and an assistant to the mayor of Miami.

Mario Diaz-Balart's current chief of staff, Nilda Pedrosa, is stepping down to pursue opportunities in Florida, Diaz-Balart's office said. A former Mel Martinez staffer, she was appointed chief of staff in January 2009.

July 01, 2010

GOP rivals trade 'homosexual' attacks

Bill McCollum received the endorsement of antiabortion leader John Stemberger. And moments later challenger Rick Scott criticized McCollum for his ties to "pro-homosexual rights" Rudy Giuliani, the former NYC mayor.

Here we go again.

And it only continues. McCollum supporters are returning fire, pointing to a Latino social networking website in which Scott invests called Quepasa.com. (We've written about Scott's connection to the site, and it's connection to Playboy Mexico before.) But the site also includes pages geared toward gays. See here and here.

If all this sounds familiar, it's because it is. (See, Florida Senate race, 2004.)

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May 15, 2010

Immigration debate comes back to haunt Mel Martinez

Images The debate over Arizona's strict new immigration law is giving Mel Martinez -- the Republican senator from Florida who took early retirement last year -- an uncomfortable sense of deja vu.

Martinez, the first Cuban American elected to the U.S. Senate, was at the center of the firestorm over immigration reform in 2006. Activists opposed to allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship mailed build-up-the-border bricks to the senator's office. The legislation collapsed as some unions balked, conservative Republicans cried against "amnesty,'' and anti-immigrant fervor laced talk radio.

Here we go again.

Taking matters into its own hands, Arizona has passed a polarizing law making it a crime not to carry a green card and empowering local police to enforce immigration law.

"I kind of cringe to see it all start again, to hear the same angry voices,'' said Martinez, now a lawyer/lobbyist at DLA Piper in Orlando. "What frustrates me so much is people equating illegal immigrants with criminals. You hear people talking about an invasion of our country.''

Full column here.

April 13, 2010

Mel Martinez lands another corporate gig

From the press release: "Stoneleigh Companies LLC announces the addition of Senator Mel Martinez to the Board of Managers and as a Principal of the firm effective April 1, 2010. Senator Martinez was the former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2001 – 2003 and most recently was the US Senator representing the State of Florida from 2005 - 2009. Upon his retirement from the US Senate in September 2009, Senator Martinez joined the law firm of DLA Piper as Partner based in Orlando, Florida and Washington DC.

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