David E. Skaggs (VICE CHAIRMAN)

Office of Congressional Ethics and Dentons US LLP

David Skaggs holds positions as Co-Chair of the Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics and is currently a Senior Advisor with Dentons US LLP.   He served in the cabinet of Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr. as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education from January, 2007, to September 2009. He is  a Fellow of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University.

Prior to these positions, Mr. Skaggs was executive director of the Center for Democracy & Citizenship at the Aspen Institute and then the Council for Excellence in Government and was Of Counsel to the Washington-based law firm, Hogan & Hartson (now HoganLovells). He also served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado (1999-2002, 2012-16). These positions followed twelve years in Congress (1987-99) as U.S. Representative from the 2nd Congressional District of Colorado (the northwestern Denver suburbs) and three terms in the Colorado House (1981-87), the last two terms as Minority Leader.

Mr. Skaggs served eight years on the House Appropriations Committee, with assignments on the Interior Subcommittee and the Commerce, Justice, State & Judiciary Subcommittee, and previously on the Energy & Water and the Treasury, Postal & General Government subcommittees.  During his last six years in Congress, he was a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he devoted particular attention to classification and information security issues.  Prior to joining the Appropriations Committee, he was a member of the (then) Public Works & Transportation Committee and the Science, Space & Technology Committee.

Skaggs did extensive work on public lands and environmental issues (he was the principal House sponsor of the 1993 Colorado Wilderness Act), on constitutional matters, in protecting the advocacy rights of nonprofit organizations, and in support of basic research and higher education.  He also played an active role in House consideration of foreign policy and trade matters and has traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Central America.

During his tenure on the Hill, Mr. Skaggs was a leader in efforts to improve the House of Representatives.  He was the founding co-chairman with Congressman Ray LaHood (R-Illinois) of the House Bipartisan Retreat, the first such meeting in history, held in March, 1997, at Hershey, Pennsylvania.  He was also co-founder with Representative Jim Leach (R-Iowa) of the Constitutional Forum, a series of seminars featuring distinguished guest lecturers who led Member discussions of current and recurring constitutional issues.  During the 104th Congress, Mr. Skaggs was Chairman of the Democratic Study Group, the principal policy development and institutional reform organization of House Democrats.

After leaving Congress, Skaggs  was a member the Secretary of Energy’s Task Force on Nonproliferation Programs in Russia (the “Baker-Cutler Task Force”) in 1999-2000 and in 1999 served on the Secretary of State’s Overseas Presence Advisory Panel investigating security and other issues affecting the State Department’s posts abroad in the wake of the east African embassy bombings.

Skaggs has remained dedicated to improving the quality of the nation’s politics. In 2017 he and his wife established an endowment at American University to support the biennial award of the Madison Prizes. Starting in 2019 the Prizes will be awarded to one Republican and one Democrat from either House or Senate to recognize those legislators who best exemplify the need for compromise and the republican spirit expressed by Madison in Federalist 10.

The Center for Democracy & Citizenship, started by Skaggs in 1999, worked to strengthen American representative democracy through several projects and activities, including the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools (www.civicmissionofschools.org), the Congress to Campus Program (see, Congress to Campus), the Campaign for Young Voters, redistricting reform and lobbying reform. He also managed the Global Interdependence Initiative while at the Aspen Institute. The Center provided overall management of the 1999 House Bipartisan Retreats at Hershey, Pennsylvania, and the 2001 and 2003 Retreats at The Greenbrier resort.  It managed a similar bipartisan conference for the Virginia House of Delegates in 2002.

With former Congressman Mickey Edwards (R-OK), Skaggs co-chaired during 2005 the War Powers Initiative, a bi-partisan project of the Constitution Project to re-examine the respective prerogatives and responsibilities of the three branches in addressing questions about the use of military force.

Prior to serving in elected office, Mr. Skaggs practiced law in Boulder, Colorado, as a judge advocate in the United States Marine Corps, and briefly in New York City.  He was also chief-of-staff to then Congressman Timothy E. Wirth of Colorado from 1974 to 1977.

After earning a B.A. in philosophy from Wesleyan University in 1964, Mr. Skaggs studied law at the University of Virginia for one year, completing his LL.B. at the Yale Law School in 1967.  He is admitted to the Colorado, New York and District of Columbia bars.  He entered active duty in the U. S. Marine Corps in 1968 and served on Okinawa, in Vietnam, and at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, earning the Navy Commendation Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal (with Combat “V”). After leaving active duty in 1971 he continued in the active Marine Corps Reserve, attaining the rank of Major in 1976; he received an honorable discharge in 1979.

He serves on the boards of trustees of the U. S. Association of Former Members of Congress and of the America University in Iraq – Sulaimani. He has previously served on the boards of trustees of: Pact, an NGO addressing economic development and sustainability needs in Africa and Asia; Wesleyan University; the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research; the National Trust for the Humanities; the U. S. Capitol Historical Society; and Rocky Mountain PBS; and on the Steering Committee of the East West Parliamentary Practice Project, on the National Advisory Council of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Public Affairs Advisory Council of the Advertising Council and the Advisory Board of the Campaign Legal Center and as an Academic Fellow at the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Skaggs has been a frequent guest lecturer in Washington at programs sponsored by American University, Georgetown University, the Brookings Institution, the Washington Center and Washington Campus, the University of Colorado, the University of Birmingham (U.K.) and various other venues and has written numerous op-ed pieces.

Mr. Skaggs is married to Laura Locher Skaggs, and has three children: Matthew Babcock (50), Clare Belcher (42) and Will Driscoll (38).