Busted: Iowa GOP lawmaker's alma mater turns out to be company that ran Sizzler steak house
Iowa state Sen. Mark Chelgren (YouTube)

Iowa state Sen. Mark Chelgren (R) was forced to backtrack on claims that he received a college "degree" after his alma mater was revealed to be the operator of a Sizzler steak house franchise.


NBC News reported on Wednesday that Chelgren's "business degree" came under scrutiny due to a bill he is sponsoring which would limit the number of liberal professors that state universities could hire.

Iowa State Republicans spokesperson Ed Failor admitted to NBC News that Chelgren did not actually hold a formal degree even though the Senate Republicans' website said otherwise. The website has since updated his biography to remove references to the "degree."

"This was a management course he took when he worked for Sizzler, kind of like Hamburger University at McDonald's," Failor explained. "He got a certificate."

Chelgren insisted that he was not trying to deceive voters.

"This was not an attempt to inflate anything," he remarked. "I didn't concern myself about this, honestly."

The Senate Republicans' website states that the lawmaker "attended the University of California at Riverside majoring in astro-physics, geo-physics and mathematics."

Chelgren said that he attended the school for three years but did not receive a degree. But University spokesman John Warren told NBC News that there was only a record of him attending for one year, from 1992 to 1993.

The Iowa Republican dismissed the discrepancy by saying that he had also attended "Riverside Community College."

Chelgren's Senate File 288 would require that state universities determine the party affiliation of professors and then implement a hiring freeze until there are no more than 10 percent more Democrats than Republicans or vice versa.

Chelgren has said that he based the bill on his own experiences with "liberal professors."