The materials of Frederic Malek encompass the years 1969 to 1973, and relate to Malek’s roles as deputy undersecretary of
the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) (1969 to late 1970) and head of the White House Personnel Operation
(WHPO) (late 1970 to 1973).
Fred Malek was born in Berwyn, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, on December 22, 1936. Malek, the son of a beer salesman and
the grandson of Czechoslovakian and Yugoslavian immigrants, graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1959 and
served in Vietnam as an Army Ranger and Green Beret with the Special Forces. When he returned from military duty, he graduated
from Harvard Business School in 1964 with a Master of Business Administration. After working briefly as a management consultant
for McKinsey & Co., Malek and two partners bought Utica Tool Company, a failing tool manufacturer, in 1967. They renamed it
Triangle Corporation and continued to purchase other tool companies to expand production.
In 1969, Malek left Triangle Corporation to become HEW Secretary Robert H. Finch’s deputy undersecretary. Malek’s portfolio
was to make HEW more responsive, and he quickly impressed Finch and others by curtailing red tape and discharging personnel,
earning himself the nickname “the hatchet” because of his tenacity. President Nixon’s Chief of Staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman subsequently
made Malek White House personnel chief, and Malek thus became responsible for recruiting candidates for high-ranking appointed
positions on the White House staff.
One of Malek’s projects while under the Nixon administration was recruiting women to serve in civil service offices. Malek
turned to staff assistant Barbara Hackman Franklin to carry out that goal, and the pressure they applied to executive agencies
to hire women led to an increase in the number of women in the top levels of the federal government.
Malek’s self-proclaimed greatest mistake occurred later in that year, when he acquiesced to Nixon’s demand to provide a list
of all Jewish employees of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Under pressure from Nixon and Haldeman, he supplied Nixon with
a list of thirteen people he thought had Jewish surnames. Two of them were subsequently demoted. In 1972, Malek initiated
the “responsiveness program,” a way to gain political support for Nixon’s re-election by using federal resources and grants
to influence key states and voting blocs, especially minority groups. The Senate Watergate Committee later investigated and
censured this program. Malek also served as deputy chief of the Committee to Re-elect the President in 1972.
Malek joined Marriot Hotels in 1975 as a senior vice president; he served as president from 1981 to 1988. He participated
in the buyout of Northwest Airlines and was its president and chairman from 1989 to 1991. After contributing to the acquisition
of CB Richard Ellis in 1989, Malek became co-chairman of the global real estate company until 1996. He also had important
roles in the buyouts of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and of the Texas Rangers baseball team, which he co-owned with other
Republican financiers and George W. Bush. Malek founded two private equity firms, Thayer Capital Partners and Thayer Lodging
Group, in 1991.
Since the Nixon administration, Malek has continued to advise presidents. He served under President Reagan on the President’s
Council on Cost Control, the President’s Commission on Private Sector Initiatives, and the President’s Council on Physical
Fitness and Sports. Under President George H. W. Bush, Malek was director of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations,
for which he became a lifetime ambassador. From April 2007 to June 2008, Malek also served as the finance chairman for John
McCain’s presidential campaign.
In 1978, Malek published Washington’s Hidden Tragedy: The Failure to Make Government Work, a critique of government bureaucracy.
Most government records are in the public domain; however, this series includes commercial materials, such as newspaper clippings,
that may be subject to copyright restrictions. Researchers should contact the copyright holder for information.