Ken Buck

Ken Buck
Ken Buck official congressional photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded byCory Gardner
District Attorney of Weld County
In office
Preceded byAl Dominguez[1]
Succeeded byMichael Rourke[2]
Personal details
Kenneth Robert Buck

(1959-02-16) February 16, 1959 (age 60)
Ossining, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
University of Wyoming (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

Kenneth Robert Buck (born February 16, 1959) is an American politician who is the U.S. Representative for Colorado's 4th congressional district. A Republican, he previously served as District Attorney for Weld County, Colorado. Buck also ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate in 2010, losing to Democrat Michael Bennet. Buck was elected Chair of the Colorado Republican Party on March 30, 2019, replacing Jeff Hays.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Buck was born in Ossining, New York in 1959.[6] He and his two brothers were encouraged by their parents, both New York lawyers, to attend Ivy League colleges,[7] and Buck earned his B.A. degree from Princeton University in 1981. Buck later said that the Princeton degree was "more important to [my father] than me".[7] Buck played four years of football at Princeton, one year as a defensive back/punter/kicker and three years as a punter, earning All-Ivy League honors as a punter his senior year.[8]

After college Buck moved west and worked in Wyoming at the state legislative services office and received a J.D. degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law in 1985. He was also an instructor at the University of Denver Law School and for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy in Colorado.


U.S. Attorney's Office[edit]

In 1986, he was hired by Congressman Dick Cheney to work on the Iran-Contra investigation. Following that assignment, he worked as a prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C.[9]

In 1990 Buck joined the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado where he became Chief of the Criminal Division. Buck was formally reprimanded and required to take ethics classes in 2001 for a meeting he had with defense attorneys about a felony case he thought should not be pursued.[7][10] Only one of the three men initially indicted on felony charges was convicted, for a misdemeanor offense.[10] Buck said he is "not proud" of the incident that effectively ended his career with the Justice Department,[10] but says he felt it was "unethical" to prosecute such a "weak" case against the three men.[11] One of the three men donated $700 to Buck's 2010 Senate campaign.[10]

Weld County District Attorney[edit]

Buck was elected the District Attorney for Weld County, Colorado in 2004. When he suspected that Social Security numbers were being stolen by undocumented immigrants, he raided a tax service in Greeley, Colorado and seized more than 5,000 tax files. The American Civil Liberties Union sued Buck's office for violating the privacy of the service's clients and after an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, costing the county approximately $150,000, the raid was deemed unconstitutional.[7] Buck has said that his time enforcing laws for the Justice Department and Weld County stoked his desire to become a lawmaker himself.[7]

2010 United States Senate campaign[edit]

Republican primary[edit]

Angered by what he later called the nation's "lurch to the left,[11] Buck announced his plans to run for U.S. senator on April 28, 2009.[12] In his first run for state-wide office, Buck frequently referenced national issues in defining his goals as a U.S. senator. Among these were his opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (a program of federal economic stimulus initiated under President George W. Bush and finalized under President Barack Obama) and the role of federal policy czars.[11] Buck also stressed mounting governmental debt, an issue to which he was to frequently return throughout the primary campaign.[11] Buck, contrasting himself to what he argued was the "top down" style of early Republican favorite Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, also pledged a "bottom-up" campaign that would include visits to each of Colorado's 64 counties.[11]

Initially Norton was seen to have had a nearly insurmountable advantage against "a band of underfunded unknowns" that included Buck, who early in the primary season was called "a dead-in-the-water Republican U.S. Senate candidate with laughable fundraising totals and little establishment GOP support". Norton's staff at the beginning of the campaign was twice the size of Buck's. He attempted to make a virtue of his meager war chest by positioning "himself as the small-money underdog" in an election cycle that saw a "populist push for outsider candidates to upset the Washington establishment".[13]

After receiving nearly $600,000 in a television advertising support from Americans for Job Security and a victory in March at the state party's caucuses, Buck began to receive endorsements and notice. By late spring of 2010, Colorado had highly competitive Republican and Democratic primaries.[13]

Although Buck positioned himself as the candidate for the Tea Party movement during the Republican primary,[14] he stirred controversy at times with remarks critical of former Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Tea Party favorite, and the statement "Will you tell those dumbasses at the Tea Party to stop asking questions about birth certificates while I'm on the camera?" – a reference to those suspicious of President Barack Obama's place of birth. Buck blamed the comments on his exhaustion and frustration after months of campaigning, and on his exasperation that it was difficult to keep campaign debate focused on the issue of mounting governmental debt.[15] Tea Party leader Lu Busse criticized Buck's "choice of words" and inclination to treat all Tea Party adherents as a uniform group.[16]

Buck again stirred controversy by suggesting voters should cast their votes for him over Norton because, unlike his female competitor, "I do not wear high heels."[17][18] Buck later stated that he was responding to Norton's television ad claiming he was not "man enough" to attack her himself.[19] (According to mass email, sent on behalf of Senator Jim DeMint, it was a joking paraphrase of his opponent's suggestion to vote for her, "because I wear high heels").

Making reference to Buck's mandatory ethics classes, Norton argued that she "didn't need an ethics class to know what's right. ... Ken broke the rules, and the facts speak for themselves."[20] After Buck's former supervisor, then-U.S. Attorney John Suthers, endorsed Norton, the Colorado Democratic Party Chair called for Buck's resignation from his Weld County post because of his "career bypassing justice and ethics to reward political allies and campaign contributors".[20]

On August 10, Buck defeated Norton in the Republican primary election by a 52% to 48% margin,[21] the end of "a bitterly contested primary that saw him go from an obscure and cash-starved underdog to a gaffe-prone mascot for anti-establishment conservatives [in Colorado] and nationally."[22]

Senate general election[edit]

In the November general election, Buck was defeated by appointed Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat by a margin of 48.1% to 46.4%.[23][24]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2014 election[edit]

On August 19, 2013, Buck emailed supporters and announced that the lymphoma he had been diagnosed with was in remission following treatment and he would run against Senator Mark Udall in 2014. He had already filed to run on August 7, 2013, before he sent out the email.[25] In March 2014, Buck withdrew from the race following the entrance of Rep. Cory Gardner, and decided instead to run for Gardner's seat in Colorado's 4th congressional district.[26]

Buck won the Republican primary, defeating three other candidates, with 44% of the vote[27] and proceeded to win the general election, defeating Democratic nominee Vic Meyers with 65% of the vote.[28]

He is a member of the Freedom Caucus.[29]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]


Buck voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[31] Buck believes the bill is "fairer for American families" and that it will "keep more jobs in America."[32] He also says that it will simplify the tax code, when the process has been recognized as not being simpler than current tax filing processes.[33]

Political positions[edit]

Ken Buck speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.


Buck supports a revamp of the Department of Education and questions the department's constitutionality.[34] Buck supports gun rights and is endorsed by Gun Owners of America. He stated that he would "oppose any federal legislation to compile a database of gun owners or to further proscribe Americans' freedoms under the Second Amendment".[35] He also stated that if elected to the Senate he would never raise taxes.[34]


Buck rejects established climate science. In an October, 2010 meeting with supporters in Fort Collins, Colorado, Buck endorsed the views of Senator James Inhofe, saying "Sen. Inhofe was the first person to stand up and say this global warming is the greatest hoax that has been perpetrated. The evidence just keeps supporting his view, and more and more people's view, of what's going on."[36] According to a Buck spokesman, "Ken believes there is global warming but thinks the evidence points to it being natural rather than man-made."[37]


He opposes the health care reform laws that were enacted in 2010. He instead favors free market-based reforms.[34] His campaign website states, "We need to let the market work, make people responsible for their own insurance, and restore Americans' freedom to decide for themselves whether and how much insurance to buy."[38] He supported a state constitutional amendment that would give rights to unborn fetuses, but then later withdrew his support reportedly after he found out that the measure would have restricted certain fertility and contraception procedures.[39]

Veterans health[edit]

Buck proposed privatizing Veterans Administration hospitals so they would "be better run".[40] Three months later, Buck changed positions and his campaign said, "... while Buck does indeed believe that private sector providers might do a better job than the VA in delivering health care to veterans, he is not in favor of fully privatizing health care for veterans."[41]

Human rights[edit]

LGBT rights[edit]

Buck supports the U.S. military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. He said, "I do not support the repeal of don't ask don't tell. I think it is a policy that makes a lot of sense."[42] Buck believes that being gay is a choice. He said, "I think birth has an influence over it, like alcoholism ... but I think that basically you have a choice."[43] The Log Cabin Republicans have rebuked him for this comment.[44]

Net neutrality[edit]

Buck signed his support for Ajit Pai's motion to abolish Net-Neutrality, alongside 106 other Republican representatives. When asked about Pai's work to unravel net neutrality rules, Buck said: "I support Chairman Pai's efforts to free internet providers from burdensome regulations that stifle innovation and increase costs for Coloradans."[45]

Social issues[edit]


Buck opposes abortion, including in cases of rape and incest, but makes exceptions if the mother's life is in danger.[46]

Personal life[edit]

Buck has two children from his first marriage. Son Cody (born 1988) is a 2011 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. In 2017, Buck authored Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think. [47] [48]. Buck and his second wife, Perry, announced their divorce Nov. 9, 2018, three days after the election.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "How Old Is Ken Buck?". Politics Daily. 2010-10-04. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e Allison Sherry "Ken Buck's family background helps him stand strong on principles" July 29, 2010, Denver Post
  8. ^ "All Ivy Tigers". 2002-10-22. Archived from the original on 2002-10-22. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  9. ^ Allison Sherry (2010-09-26). "Bucks' East Coast ambition meets West allure". Denver Post. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
  10. ^ a b c d Allison Sherry "Belittled case drew Senate candidate Buck a rebuke from boss" June 24, 2010, The Denver Post
  11. ^ a b c d e "A conversation with Ken Buck". The Denver Post. July 18, 2010.
  12. ^ Federal Election Commission filing; Ken Buck for U.S. Senate, The Colorado Statesman, May 1, 2010
  13. ^ a b Sherry, Allison (15 April 2010). "Long-shot Senate candidate Buck hits bull's-eye in Colo. – The Denver Post". The Denver Post. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  14. ^ Sherry, Allison (July 26, 2010). "Senate hopeful Buck regrets criticism of Tea Party birthers". Denver Post.
  15. ^ The Denver Post on Buck's ties to Tea Party
  16. ^ The Denver Post on Lu Busse's comments
  17. ^ Lorber, Janie (2010-07-22). "In Colorado race, a focus on footwear". The Caucus (blog). The New York Times. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  18. ^ "Jane Norton ad takes on Ken Buck over 'high heels' comment". Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  19. ^ "GOP Rivals Jane Norton, Ken Buck Fight Over "High Heels" and Manhood". Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  20. ^ a b "Colorado Democrats and GOP Senate hopeful Jane Norton scold Ken Buck". The Spot (blog). The Denver Post. 2010-06-24. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  21. ^ Buck defeats Norton in bruising GOP primary for Senate seat, Allison Sherry, The Denver Post, August 11, 2010
  22. ^ "Can he Buck the system?". Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  23. ^ "Colorado - Election Results 2010 - The New York Times". Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  24. ^
  25. ^ Davis, Susan (8 August 2013). "Ken Buck enters Colo. Senate race". USA Today. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  26. ^ "Ken Buck Drops Senate Bid to Run for Cory Gardner's Seat". Roll Call. February 26, 2014. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  27. ^ "Official Colorado Secretary of State Results". Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  28. ^ "Official Results November 4, 2014 General Election". Colorado Secretary of State. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  29. ^ "What is the House Freedom Caucus, and who's in it?". Pew research center. 20 October 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  30. ^ "Members". Congressional Western Caucus. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  31. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah (19 December 2017). "How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  32. ^ Matthews, Mark K. (20 December 2017). "How Colorado lawmakers voted on the federal tax overhaul — and why". The Denver Post. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  33. ^ "Do not expect postcard-sized tax return from Republican plan: experts". Reuters. 2017. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  34. ^ a b c Ken Buck, "Who Runs Gov", Washington Post
  35. ^ "Ken Buck's Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)". Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  36. ^ Moore, Robert (August 21, 2010). "Buck makes stop in Fort Collins, discusses statement making headlines this week". The Coloradoan. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  37. ^ Allison Sherry Senate candidate Ken Buck clarifies comments on global warming "hoax" The Denver Post October 22, 2010
  38. ^ Buck campaign website.[dead link]
  39. ^ "Dems seize on Tea Party candidates social issues", Associated Press
  40. ^ Keyes, Scott (24 September 2010). "Ken Buck Campaign Can't Get Their Story Straight On Whether They Support Privatizing VA Hospitals". Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  41. ^ "Buck on VA health care privatizing". KDVR/Fox 31 TV. Denver, Colorado. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011.
  42. ^ "Senate debates reveal stark differences between candidates :: Northern Colorado Gazette". Greeley Gazette. September 27, 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  43. ^ "Buck Stands By Controversial Remarks",
  44. ^ "Log Cabin Republicans news release". Archived from the original on 2010-10-22. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  45. ^ Chuang, Tamara; Paul, Jesse. "Reporter". Denver Post. The Denver Post. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  46. ^ "Respect for Life". Buck campaign website. Archived from the original on September 2, 2010.
  47. ^ The Denver Post on Buck's personal life
  48. ^ . The Hill Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Pete Coors
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Colorado
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Darryl Glenn
Preceded by
Jeff Hays
Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Cory Gardner
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 4th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Brendan Boyle
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Buddy Carter