Military Wiki

Ray Mabus
United States Secretary of the Navy
Assumed office
June 18, 2009
President Barack Obama
Preceded by B. J. Penn (Acting)
United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

In office
July 5, 1994 – April 25, 1996
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Charles Freeman
Succeeded by Wyche Fowler
Governor of Mississippi

In office
January 12, 1988 – January 14, 1992
Lieutenant Brad Dye
Preceded by William Allain
Succeeded by Kirk Fordice
State Auditor of Mississippi

In office
January 10, 1984 – January 12, 1988
Governor William Allain
Preceded by Hamp King
Succeeded by Pete Johnson
Personal details
Born Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr.
October 11, 1948(1948-10-11) (age 74)
Starkville, Mississippi, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lynne Mabus
Alma mater University of Mississippi, Oxford
Johns Hopkins University
Harvard University
Religion Methodism

Raymond Edwin "Ray" Mabus, Jr. (born October 11, 1948) is the 75th and current United States Secretary of the Navy. Mabus served as the 59th Governor of the U.S. state of Mississippi from 1988 to 1992 and as United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1994 to 1996.

Early life

Mabus was born in Starkville 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 B.A. in English and political science. He earned an Master of Arts in political science from Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Harvard 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,[1] and worked as a law clerk in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Political career

Mabus began his professional career working in Washington as legal counsel to the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. 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.[2]

Mississippi State Auditor

In 1983, Mabus was elected state auditor and served from 1984 to 1988, during which time he participated in a large FBI sting operation which recovered millions in misspent or stolen public funds.[3] By the time it was finished, "Operation Pretense" ensnared 57 county supervisors in 25 counties, and all but two supervisors served time in prison.[4]

Governor of Mississippi

In 1987, he defeated Tupelo businessman Jack Reed in the gubernatorial election by 53% to 47%,[5] becoming the youngest governor in the nation at the time. Mabus, who ran on the slogan "Mississippi Will Never Be Last Again,"[6] 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" which chronicled his challenges and successes.[7]

During his time as governor, he passed B.E.S.T. (Better Education for Success Tomorrow),[8] gave teachers the largest pay raise in the nation;[9] and was named one of Fortune Magazine’s ten "education governors".[10] Mississippi also had record growth in new jobs, investment, tourism and exports.[citation needed]

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 narrowly defeated in the general election by Republican Kirk Fordice.[11]

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,[12] a 1994 crisis with Iraq was deterred,[13] he presided over the embassy during the 1995 terrorist attack,[14] child abduction cases were addressed,[15] and contracts worth more than $16 billion were signed between Saudi Arabian and American companies such as Boeing,[16] and AT&T.[17]

Mabus' 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.[citation needed]

Secretary of the Navy

Mabus meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office, June 2010.

On March 27, 2009, Mabus was nominated by President Obama as Secretary of the Department of the Navy.[18] He was sworn in on May 19, 2009,[19] 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.[20][21][22][23]

In April 2010 a furor arose when it was reported that Mabus made the controversial 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 auxiliary ship after Cesar Chavez,[24] and a corvette/littoral combat ship after former Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords following her suffering life-threatening wounds in a mass shooting incident in her home district in Tucson.[25]

On April 16, 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, after the nation's 36th President. 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.

Secretary Mabus has a presence on Facebook and frequently comments about his daily activities. This is the first case of a branch secretary maintaining a web presence.[citation needed]

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".[26]

Business ventures

In August 2007, he joined the board of Enersys, the world's largest manufacturer, marketer and distributor of industrial batteries.[27] From 2006-April 2007, he was Chairman and CEO of Foamex International and helped lead it out of bankruptcy.[citation needed] Less than nine months after his appointment, Foamex emerged from Chapter 11.[28][verification needed]

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 Social Responsibility Award from the King Center in Atlanta, the National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award, the King Abdul Aziz 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.

He is a former member of the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy[29] and the Council on Foreign Relations, and is the Distinguished Lecturer on the Middle East at the University of Mississippi.

As a photographer, his photographs have raised tens of thousands of dollars for various Mississippi charities.

He has appeared on many television programs as an expert on the Middle East, including "60 Minutes" and "Nightline".

In 2009, Mabus made a cameo appearance on the US drama NCIS as an NCIS Agent named "Ray".[30]

Personal life

Mabus has two daughters, Elisabeth and Annie, with his first wife.

In 1998, Mabus secretly tape recorded conversations he had with his then-wife Julie and a priest in attempts to resolve marital difficulties. The conversations provided a basis for Mabus to obtain sole legal custody of the children from that marriage. Julie (now Hines) filed suit against the reverend, his church, and the diocese. The case was the focus of media attention for issues raised relating to privacy rights in the context of churches. Mabus's actions in the incident were legal and he was not named in the suit.[31]


  2. The Clarion-Ledger, May 29, 2007
  3. No Pretense to Honesty: County Government Corruption in Mississippi, Nicholls St. Univ. and Univ. of Miss., May 2003
  4. The Clarion-Ledger, June 17, 2007
  6. TIME Magazine, November 16, 1987
  7. New York Times Magazine, February 28, 1988
  8. AGENCY GROUP, 05. "Doe Announces More Key Administration Posts." FDCH Regulatory Intelligence Database (n.d.): Regional Business News. Web. 3 Nov. 2011.
  9. PETER, APPLEBOME. "Mississippi Governor's Record at Issue." New York Times 16 Sept. 1991: 8. Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 3 Nov. 2011.
  10. Fortune Magazine, May 28, 1990
  11. TIME Magazine, November 18, 1991
  12. Inventory of Conflict & Environment, Saudi-Yemen border dispute
  13. Operation Vigilant Warrior
  14. OPM-SANG background
  15. State Dept. press briefing, August 6, 2002
  16. Boeing aircraft sale to Saudi Arabia
  17. TEP6 telecommunications project
  19. Staff reporter (2009-05-19). "Mabus Sworn in as New Navy Secretary". NNS. Retrieved 2009-05-20. "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
  24. Gary Robbins; Elizabeth Aguilera (18 May 2011). "Navy secretary names ship after Cesar Chavez". Retrieved 7 March 2012. "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."" 
  25. Philip Ewing (15 February 2012). "Navy Plays it Safe With New DDG and LCS Names". Retrieved 7 March 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." 
  26. Remarks by the President to the Nation on the BP Oil Spill, June 15, 2010
  27. PRNewswire/CNN, August 7, 2007
  28. Foamex International website
  29. RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy website
  30. "Ray Mabus to guest star on 'NCIS'". United Press International. November 9, 2009. Retrieved March 17, 2012. 
  31. Rutenberg, Jim (March 28, 2009). "Navy Secretary Nominee Drew Notice Over Divorce". The New York Times. Retrieved March 30, 2009. 

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Dick Molpus
Democratic nominee for Governor of Mississippi
1987, 1991
Succeeded by
John Eaves
Political offices
Preceded by
Hamp King
State Auditor of Mississippi
Succeeded by
Pete Johnson
Preceded by
William Allain
Governor of Mississippi
Succeeded by
Kirk Fordice
Preceded by
B. J. Penn
United States Secretary of the Navy
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Charles Freeman
United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
Succeeded by
Wyche Fowler

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