Fred Malek

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Frederic Vincent Malek[1] (born December 22, 1936) is an American business executive, political advisor and philanthropist. He is the former President of Marriott Hotels and Northwest Airlines and former assistant to United States Presidents Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush. Active in politics for more than fifty years, Malek has also served as a National Finance Committee Chairman of John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, as well as the finance chair for the Republican Governors Association, and has played various roles in the campaign of every Republican nominee for President, with the exception of Donald Trump, over the past four decades.[2] Malek has also served as the Chairman of the Board of Visitors of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and has been active in philanthropic efforts to support the Academy. In 2011, in recognition of his commitment to free enterprise and community service, he received the Horatio Alger Award.[3]

Early life[edit]

Malek was born in Berwyn, Illinois, of Czech and Croatian descent,[4][5] the son of a beer truck driver.[1] He was raised in Chicago. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from West Point in 1959,[6] and served in Vietnam as an airborne ranger, assigned to a special forces unit.[citation needed] He received his M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School in 1964 and worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Co.. He and two classmates made a pact to purchase a business together; two would work and support the third while he scouted out opportunities. In 1967, he left McKinsey and, with his partners, purchased Triangle Corp., a struggling hand tool manufacturing company in Orangeburg, South Carolina.[6][7]

Business career[edit]

Marriott Corp.[edit]

In 1975, Fred Malek joined Bethesda-based Marriott Corp., and was quickly promoted, eventually becoming president of Marriott Hotels. He was elected executive vice president of Marriott in March 1978.[8] Under Malek's oversight of the hotel and resort division from 1981 to 1988, earnings increased nearly fourfold, or 18 percent a year, during a period that encompassed a recession, industry overbuilding and profit declines by competitors.[9]

In early 1989, Malek became a senior advisor to the Carlyle Group. He led a group of investors to purchase the Coldwell Banker Commercial Group, the nation's largest commercial real estate services company, from Sears, Roebuck and Company at a price estimated at $300 million. He went on to became co-chairman of the company, serving on the board of directors for 29 years, helping to increase the value of the company to over $15 billion.[10]

Northwest Airlines[edit]

Malek soon joined Los Angeles investor Al Checchi and Marriott's Gary Wilson in a $3.65 billion, all-cash purchase of Northwest Airlines. The investor group was joined in the leveraged buyout by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Elders IXL, which contributed $480 million in equity. Malek and Checchi joined the airline's 10-member board,[11]and Malek became president.[12]

In July 1989, Malek and a group of Carlyle investors bought Marriott's leading airline catering division for an estimated price of $650 million.[13] From January 1, 2002 to December 31, 2005, Malek was a member of the Board of Directors of Fannie Mae.[14]

Thayer Lodging Group[edit]

In 1991, Malek founded Thayer Lodging Group, a private equity firm named after Sylvanus Thayer, West Point class of 1808, the "father of the Military Academy."

Thayer has a lengthy and successful track record: since forming its first private equity fund in 1991, Thayer has completed 41 hotel investments with a total acquisition cost of approximately $2.4 billion.[15] Thayer's funds currently own a portfolio of 14 hotels and 3,637 guest rooms.[15] On July 1, 2013 Thayer acquired Ritz Carlton-San Francisco to the delight of Malek, who said, "we hope to replicate the success of our Orlando Grand Lakes Ritz Carlton, one of our highest return investments."[16]

On May 21, 2014, Thayer Lodging Group announced its acquisition by Brookfield Asset Management.[17] Thayer continues to own the hotels it acquired during the years prior to its partnership with Brookfield. Malek continues to be actively involved as Chairman of Thayer Lodging.[18]

Thayer Capital Partners/Thayer Hidden Creek/HCI Equity Partners[edit]

In 1993, Malek also founded and became Chairman of Thayer Capital Partners, a Washington D.C based private equity firm. In 2005 the company merged with Hidden Creek Partners and was renamed to Thayer Hidden Creek.[19] Following the SEC administrative action and a number of other setbacks the company rebranded as HCI Equity Partners,[20] a name it operated under as of 2016.[21]

On August 12, 2003, the SEC filed a civil fraud lawsuit[22] against former Connecticut state Senate Democratic Majority Leader William DiBella for participating in a fraudulent scheme to invest $75 million of the state pension funds with Malek's firm, Thayer Capital Partners.[22][23] On May 18, 2007, Thayer was found in negligence of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, and was ultimately forced to pay a civil penalty of $150,000, while Malek personally paid a fine of $100,000 for his role in the affair.[24]

It was alleged that Malek acted to enrich himself as well as advance his own political and financial interests, in addition to the benefit the fraudulent scheme would bring to him as a significant partner in Thayer. Former Connecticut State Senator and Representative DiBella testified under oath in federal court that his relationship with Malek went beyond the latters official position at Thayer, he testified that his contract obligated him to assist Malek personally with "ongoing investor relations.” and that Malek personally told him "I need you for the new treasurer” (the new treasurer being the incoming Denise Nappier).[25] The scheme moved much of the Connecticut State Retirement and Trust Fund into high-risk, long term, non-liquid private equity funds (such as Thayer's). This unbalanced the investment plan, increasing the risk of a long term failure.

Major League Baseball[edit]

Malek was a co-owner in the Texas Rangers along with former President George W. Bush and other investors. After selling his stake in the team, Malek earned his money back fivefold.[26]

Malek led the recruitment of the Montreal Expos franchise to Washington, D.C.[27] Working alongside city leaders, Malek set up the Washington Baseball Club, an investment group with partners that included Jeff Zients, Steve Porter, Paul Wolff, Frank Raines, Jim Kimsey, Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan and David Bradley.[28]

Political career[edit]

Nixon administration[edit]

Malek served in the Nixon administration in several different roles, including Deputy Under Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare under Secretaries Robert Finch and Elliot Richardson, as well as special assistant to the president from 1970 to 1973, and deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1973 to 1975.[29] Malek served as deputy chief of the Committee to Re-elect the President in 1972.[30]

As a management expert to Nixon, Malek helped restructure the White House Personnel Office, and recruited cabinet and sub-cabinet officials.[31] In his memoirs, Nixon described Malek as a "tough young businessman whose specialty was organization and management."[32]

In the first Nixon administration, Malek designed and directed the "Responsiveness Program", a strategy to replace civil servants with Nixon supporters and to steer government resources to benefit Nixon's 1972 re-election.[33][34][35] According to the Senate Watergate report, Malek wrote in a 1972 memo to Haldeman that someone was needed to "take the lead in the program to politicize Departments and Agencies" and to "supervise the patronage operation and closely monitor the grantmanship operation."[36] In advocating the plan, Malek wrote of "substantial risks" to politicizing the Executive Branch and expressed concern that the plan would "undoubtably backfire" if made public; therefore he recommended that "to minimize any links to the President, there should be no directions on this project in writing."[37]

As an advisor to President Nixon, Malek played a significant role in the early days of the Environmental Protection Agency, earning credit from William Ruckelshaus, the agency's first Administrator, and others for helping to ensure that EPA had outstanding top people in its ranks.[38]

Malek was sworn in as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget on February 2, 1973 and served until 1975 when he resigned to re-enter the private sector.

In 1971, Richard Nixon became convinced the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) had come under the control of Democratic rivals and what Nixon termed a "Jewish cabal." He instructed aides Charles Colson and H. R. Haldeman to identify a list of Democrats and "important Jewish officials" at the agency.[39] Malek provided the data on Democrats after a check of voter registration rolls, but balked at fulfilling the rest of Nixon's query. "I refused four times. The fifth time he came back and gave me a direct order through Haldeman, so I gave him a number. I regret my compliance. It was a mistake."[40] Malek did not have access to BLS employees' religious affiliations, so his list comprised those BLS employees with "Jewish-sounding names", and two months after he sent the list, two of the officials on it were reassigned to "less visible jobs" within the Labor Dept.[41]

Seymour D. Reich, chairman of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations during the 1990s, said "Malek made a mistake 18 years ago when he agreed to a regrettable request by President Nixon." But he added, Malek "has taken pains to assure the Jewish community that he realizes his error and that he intended no harm. I believe he is sincere."[42] In 2010, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) called Malek "a man of high principle" who "has proved many times over the years his loyalty to the highest principles of freedom, human rights and international tolerance.".[43] On December 15, 2014 Malek received the Anti Defamation League's Achievement award during a ceremony in Washington, DC.[44]

Bush administration[edit]

In February 1988, Malek resigned as president of Marriott Hotels to direct the Republican National Convention for then vice-president, George H.W. Bush. He was said to be "on track" for chief of staff in the Bush White House, but resigned to disassociate the Vice President from negative publicity from the Nixon administration controversy.[45]

In September 1989, Malek was appointed by President Bush to coordinate plans for the 1990 economic summit of industrialized nations. The appointment was seen as a test of whether Malek could successfully serve in the administration. Malek served as Director of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations, with the rank of ambassador, where he was responsible for the preparation and staging of the event.[46]

The appointment proved a success, and in 1992 Bush appointed Fred Malek campaign manager for his re-election. Malek was "responsible for nuts-and-bolts daily management." Malek ran the campaign with fundraiser Robert Mosbacher and pollster Robert Teeter out of a rented office in downtown Washington.[47]

Malek also served as co-chairman of the finance committee for John McCain in 2008.[48]

American Action Network[edit]

Malek is founder, former chairman and one of three executive committee members of the American Action Network, a 501(c)(4) center-right think tank established in January 2010 to promote policies based on the principles of freedom, limited government, and strong national security.

Republican Governors Association[edit]

Malek also chairs the Executive Roundtable of the Republican Governors Association, an organization supporting the election of Republican governors.[49] In 2012 it was announced that Malek agreed to serve as the Republican Governors Association's Finance Chairman.[50]Under Malek's leadership, the RGA outpaced the Democratic Governors Association, and republican governors increased from 21 in 2008 to 33 in 2018.[51]

Virginia government reform commission[edit]

On May 7, 2010, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell appointed Malek to chair a 31-member commission to find efficiencies and savings in government.[52] Critics objected to Malek's appointment based on both the BLS and SEC administrative action. In particular his ant-semitic past was singled out for criticism, less attention was paid to the Connecticut racketeering case.[53][54] McDonnell responded that he did not know of these parts of Malek's past.[55][56][57]


West Point[edit]

Speaking of his time at West Point, Malek said "Harvard was extraordinarily helpful in teaching me to analyze problems on a purely academic front, but in terms of overall effect, it was not even close to the U.S. Military Academy in making me who I am. West Point builds the entire structure of the man, the values of the man. It develops you in the whole."[6]

In 2008, Malek was nominated by President George W. Bush to the Board of Visitors of the United States Military Academy at West Point.[58] Malke would go on to become the Chairman of the board in 2011.[59]

In addition, Malek has been a philanthropic supporter of West Point, leading the largest ever capital campaign to fund the Frederic Malek West Point Visitors Center in 2017.[60]. He has also underwritten the Malek Tennis Center.


On Tuesday, May 29, 2012, Marymount University celebrated the formal renaming of its School of Health Professions in honor of Fred and Marlene Malek. Malek's wife, Marlene Malek, graduated from the school in 1979 and is a member of the Marymount Board of Trustees. The School of Health Professions was renamed "Malek School of Health Professions" to honor the Maleks' ongoing commitment to Marymount University.[61]

Fred and Marlene Malek were honored with the Outstanding Philanthropist Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals' Washington, DC, Metro Area Chapter at their National Capital Philanthropy Day in 2012.[62]

American Friends of the Czech Republic[edit]

Malek, of Czech descent, is the Chairman of the American Friends of the Czech Republic.[63] Following the April 17th, 2013 explosion that left West, TX devastated, Malek and the Friends of the Czech Republic donated substantial funds to help put the town of primarily Czech descent back on its feet; the group even sponsored an essay contest for two children to travel on an all expenses paid trip to the Czech Republic.[64][65] Following unprecedented flooding in Prague and nearby villages in early June, 2013, Malek traveled to the city to meet with Ambassador Norm Eisen and local officials to pledge aid and discuss ways to help the region recover.[66]

Personal life[edit]

Malek is married to Marlene A. Malek. They have two children and five grandchildren, and reside in McLean, Virginia.[67]

Malek is a "fitness fanatic" who has kept up physically healthy habits since West Point. A skiing accident in the mid-1980s left Malek with an artificial hip, which forced him to switch from running to lifting weights, swimming and bicycling. He is also a two time cancer survivor.[9]

Published works[edit]

  • Hidden Tragedy: The Failure to Make Government Work, Fred Malek, Free Press, 1979.[2]


  1. ^ a b Leubsdorf, Carl P. (1990-06-24). "Return to grace Summit chief sheds stigma of Nixon-era incident". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
  2. ^ "Most Popular E-mail Newsletter". USA Today. August 29, 2012.
  3. ^ "Frederic V. Malek Named 2011 Horatio Alger Award Recipient". Horatio Alger Association. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  4. ^ Cannon, Lou (1972-10-17). "The Hard Hats Are At The Throttle". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 4. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  5. ^ "National Journal". Government Research Corporation. 26 March 1971. Retrieved 26 March 2018 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c Zinsmeister, Karl (Spring 2011). "Spartan Donors". Philanthropy. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  7. ^ Nomination of Frederic V. Malek To Be a Governor of the United States Postal Service, John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database).
  8. ^ "Frederic Malek, Former Nixon Aide, Elected Vice President of Marriott", Washington Post, Chapin Wright, March 13, 1978.
  9. ^ a b "Malek Brings Cargo of Controversy to NWA", Minneapolis-St. Paul CityBusiness, Beth Ewen, October 9, 1989
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Checchi's backers will get about 20% of Northwest", Denise Gellene, Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1989.
  12. ^ "Labor Upbeat About Change in Management at Northwest", AP, Sept. 29, 1989 .
  13. ^ "Marriott will sell catering unit to one of NWA's buyers", Gellene, Los Angeles Times, July 12, 1989.
  14. ^ "Fannie Mae News Release, November 10, 2005, "Frederic Malek to Retire From Board"". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Hotel Investment Group - Thayer Lodging, Brookfield Hotel Properties - Thayer Corporate Site". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  16. ^[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Thayer Lodging Group, Inc., Announces its Acquisition by Brookfield Asset Management. In response to the merger of the two companies, Fred Malek said "this transaction brings together two companies that share similar investment objectives, management approaches and a common outlook on the global real estate market"". PR Newswire. Thayer Lodging Group. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Company Overview of Hidden Creek Partners, LLC". Bloomberg. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  20. ^ Toll, David M. "A Reborn HCI Equity Puts Pay-To-Play Past To Rest". PE Hub. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  21. ^ "Homepage". HCI Equity. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  22. ^ a b "William A. DiBella and North Cove Ventures, LLC : Lit. Rel. No. 18829 / August 12, 2004". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  23. ^ Colbert I. King, "Fred Malek, a Dog and the SEC" Washington Post March 11, 2006
  24. ^ "William A. DiBella, et al: Lit. Rel. No. 20498 / March 14, 2008". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  25. ^ Mahony, Edmund H. "DiBella A Stingy Witness: Testimony Adds Little In SEC Suit". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  26. ^ Heath, Thomas (5 October 2014). "At 77, GOP insider Malek has beaten back cancer and is on the hunt for his next big challenge". Retrieved 26 March 2018 – via
  27. ^ "How DC Got Baseball Back - Washingtonian". 1 April 2005. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  28. ^ "Fred Malek Blog » Blog Archive » 10 Years of Baseball in Washington". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  29. ^ "Fred Malek". Retrieved 2008-04-08.
  30. ^ "Frederic V. Malek". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  31. ^ New York Times, November 15, 1972.
  32. ^ RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, p. 624, Richard Nixon, 1990.
  33. ^ nid=1356&dat=19750930&id=ByATAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lAUEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2758,5691792, Jack Anderson, "Success Story of Interior Nominee," Ocala Star-Banner, September 30, 1975.
  34. ^ [1] Ray Cromley, Times Daily, September 6, 1972.
  35. ^ "Senate Watergate Report". Carroll & Graf. 26 July 2005. Retrieved 26 March 2018 – via Google Books.
  36. ^ The Senate Watergate Report, Chapter III, 1974, citing Malek memo to Haldeman.
  37. ^ The Senate Watergate Report, 1974, Chapter III, citing December 23, 1971 memo from Malek to Haldeman.
  38. ^ EPA Alumni Association: EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus and his former assistants recall the role of Fred Malik in helping the new agency personnel staff itself with top people, Video, Transcript (see p7).
  39. ^ "Nixon's Jew count: The whole story!", Timothy Noah, Slate, Sept. 26, 2007.
  40. ^ "Adviser Makes Peace With Jewish Groups; In Line for New Bush Job" Christopher Connell, AP, September 11, 1989.
  41. ^ "New Job for Aide Who Quit Bush Campaign", Bernard Weinraub, Sept. 10, 1989.
  42. ^ Connell, AP, 1989.
  43. ^ Anita Kumar (10 May 2010). "Democrats attack McDonnell's selection of Malek as government reform chairman". Washington Post.
  44. ^ Heath, Thomas (28 December 2014). "Capital Buzz: Ex-Living Social exec has new career in making signs". Retrieved 26 March 2018 – via
  45. ^ "New Job for Aide Who Quit Bush Campaign", Bernard Weinraub, New York Times, September 10, 1989.
  46. ^ "Houston Economic Summit Preview, Jun 22 1990 - Video -". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  47. ^ "Bush picks commerce secretary; GOP fundraiser to be nominated", Bill Mintz, Houston Chronicle, December 27, 1991.
  48. ^ "John McCain Bundlers". Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  49. ^ "Fred Malek Blog". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  50. ^ "Malek to serve as Republican Governors Association finance chairman - Elmendorf elected chairman of Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund - New executive director for women's government affairs organization". POLITICO. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  51. ^ "RGA haul outpaces the DGA's". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  52. ^ "McDonnell announces members of government reform commission". May 7, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  53. ^ Timothy, Noah. "What's the Matter With Virginia? Part 2". slate. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  54. ^ "Va. delegate says commission chair anti-Semitic". WTOP. May 10, 2010. Retrieved 201-05-26. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  55. ^ Noah, Timothy (May 21, 2010). "What's the Matter With Virginia? Part 2: Fred Malek's anti-Semitic past makes him unfit to chair a state government panel". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2010-06-10.[permanent dead link]
  56. ^ Helderman, Rosalind (May 26, 2010). "McDonnell Says he didn't know of Malek disputes: Made List of Jews for Nixon". Washington Post. p. B1.
  57. ^ "McDonnell unaware of reform chairman's past". WTOP. May 25, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  58. ^ Rutenberg, Jim (6 December 2008). "On His Way Out, Bush Leads Others In". New York Times. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  59. ^ "United States Military Academy at West Point, Board of Visitors". United States Military Academy at West Point. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  60. ^ "West Point unveils new Malek Visitors Center - - Proudly Serving West Point, NY - West Point News and Commentary". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  61. ^ "Governor, University Laud Maleks' Philanthropic Efforts in Health-Care Arena". Arlington Sun Gazette. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  62. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-20. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
  63. ^ "Leadership - American Friends of the Czech Republic". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  64. ^ "Czech Republic to provide aid to devastated Texan town - Radio Prague". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  65. ^ "American Friends of the Czech Republic (AFoCR)". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  66. ^ a.s, MAFRA. "Přítel v tísni / A Friend in Need - Blog". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  67. ^ Fred Malek is McCain's new moneyman, Washington Examiner, Jeff Dufour, February 12, 2008.

External links[edit]