David E. Skaggs (Co-Vice Chair)

Former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives

Former Congressman David Skaggs recently completed thirteen years as Chair of the Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics and is currently a Senior Advisor with Dentons US LLP.  He served twelve years in Congress (1987-99) as U.S. Representative from the 2nd Congressional District of Colorado and three terms in the Colorado House (1981-87), the last two terms as Minority Leader. He was chief-of-staff to then Congressman Timothy Wirth from 1974 to 1977.

He is a Trustee of the American University of Iraq – Sulaimani and a Fellow of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. He served as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education from 2007 to 2009. From 1999 to 2006, Mr. Skaggs was executive director of the Center for Democracy & Citizenship at the Aspen Institute and then the Council for Excellence in Government, where he focused on the need to restore civic education in the public schools, an area in which he remains active. He was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado and its Law School (1999-2002, 2012-17). 

Mr. Skaggs served eight years on the House Appropriations Committee, with assignments on the Interior Subcommittee and the Commerce, Justice, State & Judiciary Subcommittee.  During his last six years in Congress, he was a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.  He 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.  He was also co-founder with Representative Jim Leach (R-Iowa) of the Constitutional Forum. During the 104th Congress, Mr. Skaggs was Chairman of the Democratic Study Group, then a policy 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.  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.

Hoping to help improve the quality of the nation’s politics, in 2017 he and his wife established an endowment at American University to support the Madison Prizes. The Prizes are awarded after each biennial Congress to one Republican and one Democrat from either House or Senate who best exemplify the need for compromise and the republican spirit expressed by Madison in Federalist 10.

Mr. Skaggs holds a B.A. in philosophy from Wesleyan University (1964) and an LL.B. from the Yale Law School (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.  After leaving active duty in 1971 he continued in the active Marine Corps Reserve, attaining the rank of Major in 1976.

Mr. Skaggs is married to Laura Locher Skaggs, and has three children and four grandchildren.