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Chelgren Responds to Criticism over Inflated Resume

By Ellis Codjoe, March 01, 2017

Senator Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa is facing fresh criticisms today after NBC News published an article questioning discrepancies in his resume. 

Chelgren is no stranger to controversy. During his first campaign he was criticized for riding RAGBRAI in the nude. Even when dressed on the RAGBRAI circuit, he was often seen wearing his ‘Chickenman’ costume, part of which is pictured above. 

His main campaign event in 2010 was essentially a massive keg party. He was even involved in what has been described as a near fist fight on the floor of the Iowa Senate. 

It should be of little surprise that NBC’s article regarding Chelgren’s resume came in the midst of a fight over Senate File 228, a bill Chelgren authored which would put a freeze on hiring at the three state universities until the number of professors is equally distributed between republicans and democrats. 

Chelgren cited his own experiences with ‘liberal professors’ as prompting him to put forward the legislation. 

Chelgren’s original biography on the Iowa Senate Republicans website listed a ‘degree in business management from Forbco Management School.

NBC News learned that Forbco Management School was not even a real school. Forbco Management School was put on by a company which owned and operated a Sizzler Steak House franchise in Southern California. Chelgren doesn’t have a ‘Degree’ from Forbco, a Iowa senate republican spokesman told NBC News. 

The reference to Forbco Management School was quickly removed after Chelgren was contacted by reporters last week. 

All I can tell you is that NBC called me, asking about the Republicans’ website because they had some questions about my education,” Chelgren told Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson. “I told them directly that the information that I had given to everyone was accurate, which is when I was 18 years old, I went to work for a company called Forbco Management. I was promoted to associate manager. In order for me to be promoted past that level, I had to go to Forbco Management school, which I attended, passed, got my certificate of completion from Forbco Management school and then I was promoted to assistant manager.”

Chelgren worked for the restaurant chain for two years. Chelgren then got an associate degree in science from Riverside Community College and studied physics at the University of California – Riverside.

That is exactly what I’ve told people in the past,” Chelgren said. “…I’m kind of perplexed about what the concern or the consternation is.”

But Chelgren’s most recent opponent for his Iowa Senate seat says it appears as though Chelgren was not honest about his resume with the voters. 

“It certainly appears that way,” Former Wapello County Supervisor Steve Siegel told Ottumwa Radio News. “In the election he was attacking where I went to school, which was UC Berkeley. I thought it was outrageous he was using that as a negative. Clearly that’s a false head. I think he needs to come clean and tell us what the true story is behind his education. I’m not pleased he attacked my education while he was lying about his. The answers he gives to voters and the answers he gives on the floor of the senate don’t always jive. I think he likes the confusion and the chaos, but it’s really difficult to deal with someone who is not honest. He needs to acknowledge he wasn’t honest and we can move on from there.”

Siegel fell short of calling on Chelgren to resign, instead saying that decision should be made by the voters. Siegel said he was considering a second run against Chelgren for the Iowa Senate. 

Chelgren was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010 and reelected in 2014. He is up for reelection in 2018. Two decades ago, Chelgren started a company in Ottumwa that makes parts for wheelchairs. Chelgren operates two other businesses, including a California company that he recently bought and moved to Iowa.

Senator Chelgren is scheduled to be the guest Friday on the KBIZ Dialogue Program. The Dialogue Program broadcasts Monday through Friday on 1240 AM and 102.7 FM KBIZ from 9:00-10:00 AM with a replay of the show at 6:00 PM. 

Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson contributed to this report. 

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