Iowa candidate says he saved you billions, and walks on water


THE DEBATE: Democrat Jim Mowrer, left, and U.S. Rep. Stephen King, R-Iowa, face off in a debate Thursday.

By Josh Kaib and Will Swaim |

Politics ain’t beanbag, the old aphorism goes, but even Rep. Stephen King, R-Iowa, has to be frustrated by the campaign claims of Jim Mowrer, a Democrat and King’s long-shot challenger in the November race for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District seat.

Mowrer continues to assert that he “established” the U.S. Army’s Office of Business Transformation.

That fiction would be bad enough. But in a televised debate Thursday night, Mowrer went a step further, saying, “I have a record of saving taxpayers billions of dollars at the Pentagon.”

Mowrer didn’t establish the OBT, which is responsible for bringing a kind of business rigor to the famously bloated Pentagon. Whatever you think of the OBT’s mission, it kind of goes without saying that Mowrer did not personally save billions of dollars.

King knows this because King was in Congress, and voted for, helped pass and saw the implementation of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act, the legislation that created the OBT.

All of that legislative work took place before the end of October 2008 — long before Mowrer got a job in the OBT, where he worked until June 2013.

So, if Mowrer wasn’t busy laying the foundations of the OBT, where was he in the months before October 2008? He was working in political campaigns for the highest-ranking Democrats in the country.

An Iraq War vet — his unit served the longest deployment of any unit in Iraq, according to the candidate’s website — Mowrer had come home to Iowa and served as an organizer for the liberal veterans group VoteVets. There, in August 2007, he came to the attention of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. Mowrer briefly served as Biden’s Iowa veterans director until the campaign flamed out. Biden, of course, famously went on to become Barack Obama’s running mate.

In December 2009 — almost a year after Team Obama entered the White House and 14 months after the creation of the OBT — Mowrer got a six-figure appointment in the OBT, courtesy of the administration.

A Dec. 17, 2009, Boone News-Republican story (behind a paywall), reported that Mowrer’s job at OBT was an appointment, courtesy of the White House.

“Mowrer was recommended for his new position by the Office of the Vice President and flew to Washington, D.C. on Nov. 23 for a personal interview with Army Secretary John McHugh,” the News-Republican reported.

That assertion is backed up by the Government Policy and Supporting Positions document for 2012 — a.k.a., The Plum Book, either for the color of its cover or because it catalogs every political appointment in the federal government.

On page 38 of the Plum Book, Mowrer, then a 23-year-old enlisted man with five years of military service, appears as “Special Assistant to the Chief Management Officer.” His appointment designation — Schedule C, or SC — indicates that he got his job because of his “knowledge of and sympathy with the goals, priorities, and preferences of an official who has a confidential or policy determining relationship with the President or the agency head.”

Mowrer’s website doesn’t mention the political contacts he made while working with Biden, or the fact that he got the appointment at OBT because of that connection. The story is more compelling — though less accurate — as Mowrer tells it: long deployments in Iraq, undergraduate and advanced degrees and then, suddenly, he’s plucked from among tens of thousands of other veterans for the job at OBT.

Mowrer’s campaign website says most of America’s problems are created by political flamethrowers inside the Beltway. “Instead of pushing for solutions,” Mowrer writes, “too many politicians in Washington are pushing sound bytes.” In his short time at OBT, Mowrer apparently picked up the habit.