|75th United States Secretary of the Navy|
May 19, 2009 – January 20, 2017
|Deputy||Robert O. Work|
Janine A. Davidson
|Preceded by||Donald C. Winter|
|Succeeded by||Richard V. Spencer|
|United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia|
July 5, 1994 – April 25, 1996
|Preceded by||John Frank Bookout Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Wyche Fowler|
|60th Governor of Mississippi|
January 12, 1988 – January 14, 1992
|Preceded by||William Allain|
|Succeeded by||Kirk Fordice|
|37th Auditor of Mississippi|
January 10, 1984 – January 12, 1988
|Preceded by||Hamp King|
|Succeeded by||Pete Johnson|
Raymond Edwin Mabus Jr.
October 11, 1948
Starkville, Mississippi, U.S.
(m. 1987; div. 2000)
|Alma mater||University of Mississippi (BA)|
Johns Hopkins University (MA)
Harvard University (JD)
|Branch/service||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1970–1972|
|Rank||Lieutenant (junior grade)|
Raymond Edwin Mabus Jr. (//; born October 11, 1948) is an American politician, diplomat, and member of the Democratic Party who served as the 75th United States Secretary of the Navy from 2009 to 2017. Mabus previously served as the State Auditor of Mississippi from 1984 to 1988, as the 60th Governor of Mississippi from 1988 to 1992 and as the United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1994 to 1996.
Early life and education
Mabus was born in Starkville, Mississippi, and is a fourth-generation Mississippian; he grew up in Ackerman, the only child of the owner of the local hardware store. After attending public schools, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Mississippi, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science. He earned a Master of Arts in political science from Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. He had been offered a Fulbright Scholarship, had held a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, and had traveled widely throughout Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and Latin America Prior to attending law school, he also served two years in the Navy as a surface warfare officer from 1970 to 1972 aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock (CLG-4), achieving the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade and worked as a law clerk in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Mabus began his professional career working in Washington, D.C., as legal counsel to the United States House Committee on Agriculture. Following the election of Governor William Winter, he returned to Mississippi to work in the governor's office, where the youthful staff, which included Mabus, Dick Molpus, John Henegan and Andy Mullins—earned the nickname "Boys of Spring" from a rival state legislator.
Mississippi State Auditor
In 1983, Mabus was elected state auditor and served from 1984 to 1988, during this time, he participated in a large FBI sting operation which recovered millions in misspent or stolen public funds. By the time it was finished, "Operation Pretense" had ensnared 57 county supervisors in 25 counties, and all but two of those supervisors served time in prison.
Governor of Mississippi
At 39 years of age, he defeated Tupelo businessman Jack Reed in the 1987 gubernatorial election by 53% to 47%, becoming the youngest governor in the United States. He won "on a wave of black votes" (black voters made up about 30 percent of the state's registered voters) and lost the white vote "by about 3 to 2" despite support from what a coalition one Democratic state chairman described as "poor whites" and yuppies. Mabus, who ran on the slogan "Mississippi Will Never Be Last Again", was billed as "the face of the New South", much like his counterpart in Arkansas at the time, Bill Clinton. Mabus was featured in a 1988 New York Times Magazine cover story titled "The Yuppies of Mississippi; How They Took Over the Statehouse".
During his time as governor, he passed B.E.S.T. (Better Education for Success Tomorrow), gave teachers the largest pay raise in the nation; and was named one of Fortune Magazine's ten "education governors". Mississippi also had record growth in new jobs, investment, tourism and exports.
Because of the gubernatorial succession amendment ratified in 1987, Mabus was eligible to become the first governor to serve two successive terms in more than 100 years, and he ran for reelection in 1991. He was defeated 51% to 48% in the general election by Republican Kirk Fordice, a former Vicksburg construction executive, who portrayed him as "arrogant and out of touch with Mississippi politically", with a New York Times article describing him as a "Porsche politician in a Chevy pickup state".
Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
Mabus was appointed by President Bill Clinton to be the United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and served from 1994 to 1996. During his tenure, a 1994 border crisis involving Yemen was defused, a 1994 crisis with Iraq was deterred, he presided over the embassy during the 1995 terrorist attack, child abduction cases were addressed, and contracts worth more than $16 billion were signed between Saudi Arabian and American companies such as Boeing, and AT&T.
Mabus's residence and embassy office in Riyadh were decorated with items of interest from his home state including an Ackerman phone book on his office coffee table and the Mississippi flag next to the American flag.
On March 27, 2009, Mabus was nominated by President Obama as Secretary of the Department of the Navy. He was sworn in on May 19, 2009, and held a ceremonial swearing in at Washington Navy Yard on June 18, 2009, where he was re-sworn in by the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Ship naming controversies
In April 2010 a furor arose when it was reported that Mabus made the proposal to name a United States Navy warship the USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) after the late Pennsylvania Democratic congressman John Murtha. Additional naming controversies occurred due to the naming of the auxiliary ship USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14) after civil rights activist Cesar Chavez who has described his service in the U.S. Navy as "the worst two years in my life," and a littoral combat ship the USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) after former Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, after she suffered life-threatening wounds in the 2011 mass shooting in her home district of Tucson, Arizona.
On April 16, 2012, the Navy Secretary returned to Naval tradition of naming certain warships after former U.S. presidents, announcing the next Zumwalt-class destroyer be named the USS Lyndon B. Johnson. Even this action represented somewhat of a change to previous norms, since with the exception of the current attack submarine, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) and the since-decommissioned USS George Washington (SSBN-598) class of Polaris/Poseidon fleet ballistic missile submarines, all recent U.S. warships named for presidents have been aircraft carriers.
Subsequent ship namings include his January 6, 2016, announcement of his naming of another auxiliary ship after civil rights activist and sitting incumbent Georgia Democratic Congressman John Lewis (i.e., USNS John Lewis (T-AO-205)). Mabus further stated that this particular class of auxiliary ship, of which the John Lewis would be the lead ship, would all be named after civil rights leaders. Mabus followed this action with his July 14, 2016, naming of the subsequent after gay rights icon and former San Francisco Democratic politician the late Harvey Milk, who had served as a naval line officer for four years prior to resigning his commission and honorable discharge as a lieutenant, junior grade (LTJG).
Gulf Coast restoration plan
President Obama has asked him to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, Native American tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents.
On September 16, 2013, gunman Aaron Alexis entered the Washington Navy Yard and killed 13 people and injured 14. Alexis was a 34-year-old military contractor. A Pentagon internal investigation found that the shootings could have been prevented with stricter oversight of security clearances and increased security at the Navy Yard facility. A ceremony was held to mark the one-year anniversary of the Navy Yard massacre, honoring those who were killed and injured. Mabus stated, "We know that their lives are defined not by how they died, but by how they lived and what they lived for, and will be remembered for that always."
After a January 2015 report by the Defense Business Board and McKinsey & Company discovered DoD was spending $134 billion, 23% of its total budget, on back-office work, and that the back-office bureaucracy staff of over one million people was nearly as great as the number of active troops, the Board recommended a plan to cut $125 billion in waste over five years. However, when Ash Carter became Defense Secretary the next month, he replaced the Board chairman, the McKinsey results were classified as secret, and its report was removed from public websites. Mabus then gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute highlighting the McKinsey report, calling the back-office costs "pure overhead" and particularly criticizing the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall III then wrote to him asking "please refrain from taking any more public pot shots" and "I do not want this spilling over into further public discourse."
On January 1, 2016, Mabus ordered the United States Marine Corps to devise a plan on co-integration of male and female recruits in basic training, giving top brass a two-week planning period, along with requesting a subject matter expert, to report the best method of said plan.
Mabus stepped down as Secretary of the Navy in January 2017 upon the inauguration of Donald Trump. He was succeeded by Assistant Navy Secretary Sean Stackley, who became acting Secretary until Richard V. Spencer was sworn in as Secretary in August 2017.
Awards, honors, community service
Mabus has been awarded the U.S. Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, the U.S. Army's Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the Martin Luther King Jr. Social Responsibility Award from the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, the National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award, the King Abdulaziz Award from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Mississippi Association of Educators' Friend of Education Award.
He is active in many community activities, primarily focusing on education. Following Hurricane Katrina, he founded the Help and Hope Foundation, which works to meet the needs of children affected by the storm.
Mabus has been married to the former Lynn Horecky since 2007. He was previously married to the former Julie HInes until their divorce in 2000.
In 2009, and again in 2014, Mabus made cameo appearances on the TV drama NCIS in the Season 7 episode "Child's Play", and in the Season 12 episode "Semper Fortis", as an NCIS Agent named "Ray". He also made a cameo on NCIS: New Orleans in the episode "Insane in the Membrane".
Mabus made a cameo appearance as himself in the "It's Not a Rumor" episode of the TV series The Last Ship, issuing orders to the crew of the Nathan James via a recorded message; in the storyline, by the time the ship received the orders, Mabus had succumbed to the "Red Flu" virus.
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Ray Mabus, former Mississippi governor and U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was sworn in May 19 as the 75th secretary of the Navy(Archived by WebCite at webcitation.org)
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Mabus' remarks came amid controversy. On Tuesday, Hunter issued a statement saying, "Naming a ship after César Chávez goes right along with other recent decisions by the Navy that appear to be more about making a political statement than upholding the Navy's history and tradition."
- Ewing, Philip (February 15, 2012). "Navy Plays it Safe With New DDG and LCS Names". Military.com. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
Less than a week after drawing traditionalist ire for naming a Navy warship after former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus returned to standard convention Wednesday in a batch of new names for forthcoming warships.
- "SECNAV Mabus Names First T-AO(X) Next Generation Oiler After Rep. John Lewis". January 6, 2016.
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