August 20, 2014

Mark Jacobs draws fire for comments on MSNBC about salary for senators

One of the candidates running for the Iowa Republican Party’s U.S. Senate nomination is drawing national attention today for saying U.S. Senators don’t make that much money.

Mark Jacobs is a retired businessman who has already spent more than one-and-a-half million dollars of his own money on the campaign. Jacobs was interviewed for a segment that aired this morning on MSNBC.

“Some candidates who are very personally wealthy have sacrified their government salaries.  Is that something you would be willing do as a United States senator?” NBC political reporter Kasie Hunt asked.

Jacobs replied: “Well, I don’t think U.S. senators make that much money, but again, you know, I’m willing to make significant investment of my time and energy here to help solve the problems we have in this country.”

A spokesman for Jacobs issued a statement to the network, saying Jacobs never really looked into how much U.S. Senators make and Jacobs “is not doing it for the money.”

Joni Ernst and Sam Clovis — two of the other candidates running for the U.S. Senate — both say the episode shows how “out of touch” the wealthy businessman is with ordinary Iowans.

“Of course a Texas energy executive wouldn’t think that $174,000 is a lot of money,” Derek Flowers, a spokesman for Ernst said. “…The future of our country is at stake, and adding another notch to a businessman’s belt is not what this race should be about.”

Clovis himself issued a written statement.

“Maybe the salary of a U.S. Senator is not that much for Mr. Jacobs, but fewer than 10% of Iowans earn that much.  Perhaps he needs to have a better understanding of the people he seeks to represent,” Clovis said.

Jacobs himself has now issued a written statement.

“I misspoke in hearing the question for the first time and want to make clear I didn’t enter into this Senate race because of the salary,” Jacobs said. “I’m running for public office because I want to serve the families of Iowa and know that I have done something for them, our great state and our country. I’ve said that I’ve always believed someone should be paid for the work they do, so what troubles me the most is that Congress continues to receive their paychecks year in and year out even though they fail to pass a budget. This shouldn’t happen and when I’m in the Senate I’d work to make sure no one receives a paycheck if they can’t pass a yearly budget.”

In other campaign-related news, Texas Governor Rick Perry has endorsed a ate in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race. Matt Whitaker backed Perry’s 2012 bid for the White House and Perry is now backing Whitaker, calling him a “man of deep faith and strong character.”

(This posted was updated at 3:12 p.m. with additional information.)