Mark Chelgren

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Eric Mark Chelgren
Eric Chelgren - Official Portrait - 84th GA.jpg
Member of the Iowa Senate
from the 41st district
Assumed office
Preceded by Keith Kreiman
Personal details
Born (1968-01-21) January 21, 1968 (age 49)
Ross, California
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Janet
Children Eric, Leah, Makayla, Ryan
Residence Ottumwa, Iowa
Occupation Legislator

Mark Chelgren (born January 21, 1968) is an American politician in Iowa who currently serves in the Iowa Senate. He is a member of the Republican Party. He was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.[1] He represents District 41.[2][3]

He has drawn controversy for proposing legislation that would cap the percentage difference in political parties of professors and instructors that state universities can hire.[4][5] He also drew controversy for his claims of having a "business degree" from the "Forbco Management school," which was in fact a management course run by a company that operated restaurants in southern California.[5]


Chelgren's education became an issue in 2017 when he proposed a bill to quiz prospective university professors on their political affiliation, and enact a percentage system to ensure that Iowa's institutions of higher learning did not hire what he deemed an inappropriately high percentage of Democrats and liberals.[6] In defending his proposed legislation, Chelgren claimed to have witnessed what he termed excessive liberal advocacy among the professors of the college he attended.[7] Subsequent investigation of his educational background called this claim into question.[8]

As of February 2017, Chelgren's Iowa State Legislature biography[9] lists his education as an A.S. at Riverside Community College and says he attended "University of California" [at Riverside]. His Senate biography used to indicate that he "has a degree in business management from Forbco Management school and attended the University of California at Riverside majoring in astro-physics, geo-physics and mathematics."[10]

In February 2017, news accounts revealed that Forbco Management was not an accredited school that awarded degrees but was a company "which ran Sizzler restaurants and a few other different restaurants."[11] Chelgren worked for Forbco as an assistant manager at a Sizzler restaurant while a young adult in California and completed the 6-month course as part of his training.[12]

Prior to February 2017, a Republican Party site's biography indicated he attended the University of California, Riverside for three years. When the university's spokesman indicated that he had attended for one school year, 1992 to 1993,[13] Chelgren told NBC that he had attended University of California, Riverside for one year, and had earned an associates degree in science from Riverside Community College after two years of attendance.[13] When asked if he mischaracterized his educational background, Chelgren said, "No, I did not."[12]

Other biographies are also inconsistent on the question of Chelgren's higher education. In the biography on one of his business's websites, FrogLegs Incorporated he claims to have "completed his education in Astro- and Geo-Physics at the University of California in Riverside"."[14]

Chelgren's biography in the Iowa Republican Party's 2014 candidate guide states that "He received his degree in Astro- and Geo-Physics at the University of California in Riverside."[15]

In a biography from a 2015-2016 Iowa Legislature directory, he lists an associate's degree from Riverside Community College and attendance at the University of California.[16] In a 2016 legislative biography published by the Advocacy Cooperative of Des Moines, Chelgren is listed as holding a "Degree in Astrophysics and Geophysics (University of California Riverside)".[17]


The Iowa Senate Republicans organization states that "Senator Chelgren is an entrepreneur with multiple patents, primarily focused in health care".[18] Chelgren has a patent for a wheelchair shock absorber that is assigned to his company FrogLegs Incorporated and has filed for two patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (patent applications #20100123296 and #20140100490).[19] A patent has not been issued for either application.[20]

Political career[edit]

In 2010, Chelgren was elected to the Iowa Senate, defeating incumbent Democrat Keith Kreiman with 9,572 to 9,582 votes.[21] In 2011, Chelgren endorsed Michele Bachmann in the 2012 presidential election.[22]

In 2014, Chelgren was re-elected, defeating Democrat Steve Siegel 10,331 to 9,954 votes.[23]

In 2015, he provoked controversy when he suggested "if an undocumented person who committed a felony is deported and then tries to return to the U.S., he or she should be subject to capital punishment."[24]

In 2016, Chelgren was a U.S. Congressional candidate for Iowa's 2nd District but withdrew in March.[25]

2015 Public Universities Bill[edit]

In 2015, Chelgren proposed a bill to the Iowa Legislature requiring all university professors to teach at least one course each semester, to terminate employment of professors receiving poor course evaluations, and to hold a student vote among the five professors with the worst course evaluations in order to terminate the contract of the professor receiving the fewest votes.[26][27][28] In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education regarding the bill, Chelgren asserted: "When I went to school, the professors who graded the hardest were among my favorite professors, not among my least favorites. The ones who seemed like they were just going through the motions and weren’t actually doing their jobs were the ones that were very frustrating. Instead of me working with that professor, you’d be pushed off to a TA or you’d simply deal with a professor who was so arrogant that you couldn’t actually ask questions without being demeaned in class. You talk about education in general and avoiding bullying issues, but a professor runs their classroom like they’re some kind of dictator."[29]

2017 Public Universities Bill[edit]

In 2017, Chegren proposed a bill for public universities to hire the same proportion of Democratic and Republican professors by a margin of 10%.[30] Chelgren aims to counter the overrepresentation of Democrats among academics and encourage "balanced speech" in the classroom.[30] The bill was challenged by the Democratic opposition and the ACLU.[30]

Electoral History[edit]

Election Political result Candidate Party Votes %
Iowa's 47th Senate District election, 2010 Republican gain from Democratic Mark Chelgren Republican 9,583 50.0
Keith Kreiman Democratic 9,572 50.0
Iowa's 41st Senate District election, 2014 Republican hold Mark Chelgren Republican 10,356 50.8
Steve Siegel Democratic 9,982 49.0


  1. ^ "Chelgren wins senate recount". Heartland Connection. 24 November 2010. 
  2. ^ Iowa Legislative Services Agency. "Iowa Legislature". 
  3. ^ "Project Vote Smart - The Voter's Self Defense System". Project Vote Smart. 
  4. ^ "Senate File 228 (Chelgren)". Iowa State Legislature. Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  5. ^ a b "Iowa pol's bio changed after 'Sizzler U' discrepancy emerges". NBC News. Retrieved 2017-03-01. 
  6. ^ Siemaszko, Corky (February 24, 2017). "Iowa Pol Pushing Bill To Get More GOP Profs On College Campuses". New York, NY. 
  7. ^ "Iowa Pol Pushing Bill To Get More GOP Profs On College Campuses".
  8. ^ Davis, Nick (March 1, 2017). "Chelgren Responds to Criticism over Inflated Resume". Ottumwa Radio. Ottumwa, IA. 
  9. ^ "Iowa Legislator Mark Chelgren (All years)". Iowa State Legislature. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  10. ^ "Mark Chelgren - Iowa Senate Republicans". Republican Party of Iowa. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  11. ^ "Iowa Capitol Digest: Chelgren Resumé". Quad City Times. Davenport, IA. March 1, 2017. 
  12. ^ a b "Chelgren denies he mischaracterized his educational background". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  13. ^ a b "Iowa pol's bio changed after 'Sizzler U' discrepancy emerges". NBC News. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  14. ^ Brown. "History - Frog Legs Inc.". Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  15. ^ Iowa Republican Party (2014). Iowa Senate Republicans: Path to Majority; 2014 Candidate Book (PDF). Des Moines, IA. p. 16. 
  16. ^ Iowa State Senate (2015). Legislative Branch (PDF). Des Moines, IA: Iowa Legislature. p. 31. 
  17. ^ 2016 Guide to the Iowa Legislature (PDF). Des Moines, IA: Advocacy Cooperative. 2016. p. 10. 
  18. ^ "Mark Chelgren". Iowa Senate Republicans. 
  19. ^ Brown. "About Us - Frog Legs Inc.". Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  20. ^ "patft » Page 1 of 1". Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ Iowa State Senator Mark Chelgren Endorses Bachmann 2011
  23. ^ "Chelgren escapes with close win". Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  24. ^ "Iowa State Sen. Mark Chelgren Suggests Death Penalty for Some Immigrant Felons". Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  25. ^ "Iowa congressional ballot promises compelling races". Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  26. ^ Senate File 64, by Chelgren
  27. ^ W, Justin (22 April 2015). "Iowa Bill Proposes Faculty Play "Survivor" (updated)". Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  28. ^ "Culling the Iowa Faculty". 21 April 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  29. ^ Will, Madeline (23 April 2015). "Iowa Legislator Wants to Give Students the Chance to Fire Underwhelming Faculty". Retrieved 3 March 2017 – via The Chronicle of Higher Education. 
  30. ^ a b c Steen Martin, David (February 23, 2017). "Iowa senator proposes bill decried as 'political litmus test' for universities". The Guardian. Retrieved February 25, 2017.