|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Colorado's 2nd district
January 3, 1987 - January 3, 1999
|Member of the Colorado House of Representatives|
|Born||February 22, 1943|
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
|Children||Matthew, Clare and Will|
|Alma mater||Wesleyan University|
Skaggs was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, but grew up in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City. He attended Wesleyan University, and after earning his degree in Philosophy in 1964, went on to Yale University, from which he received his Bachelor of Laws in 1967. Following graduation, Skaggs spent three years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps, including service in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division and assignments on Okinawa and at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, DC. Upon discharge from active duty in 1971, he remained in the Marine Reserves until 1978, attaining the rank of Major. Skaggs practiced law briefly in New York City and, after military service, in Boulder, CO.
Skaggs first became involved in politics as a Democratic Party volunteer and officer in 1971. In 1974, he was hired as an aide to United States Representative Timothy Wirth of Colorado, a position he held until 1977. He ran successfully for a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives in 1980, and he served three terms--two as Minority Leader--before running for Congress. Skaggs was a six-term member of the United States House of Representatives and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996.
While in the House, he served initially on the Science, Space & Technology Committee and the Public Works & Transportation Committee, before winning a seat on the Appropriations Committee in 1991. He also served six years (1993-99) on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. During his tenure in office, Skaggs became a voice for civility in politics. He and Representative Ray LaHood were founding co-chairs of the House Bi-Partisan Retreat, first held in 1997 and designed to encourage civility and comity in the House; the retreats continued through 2003. He was also co-founder of the Constitutional Forum (with Representative Jim Leach), a series of seminars with distinguished guest lecturers who led member discussions of constitutional issues. During the 104th Congress, Skaggs was Chairman of the Democratic Study Group, the principal policy and reform organization of House Democrats.
Skaggs had a strong environmental record while in Congress. During his tenure in office, he sponsored 42 bills, three of which were successfully enacted, including the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993, legislation that designated certain lands in the State of Colorado as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Skaggs also co-sponsored the Energy Act of 1992 that, among other things, amended utility laws to increase clean energy use and improve overall energy efficiency in the United States and mandated installation of low flush toilets in all new homes. Additionally, Skaggs was a co-sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, outlawing discrimination based on disability.
Notwithstanding his efforts to uphold civility and restore bipartisan comity to the House, Skaggs was often criticized for being partisan and voting along party lines. Though he was well known for his liberal voting record, he was a strong opponent both of the presidential line-item veto, once suing to block it, and President Clinton's use of military force without congressional approval. In 1992, Skaggs found himself at the center of controversy, coming under fire for his overdrafts from the so-called House bank.
After retiring in 1999, Skaggs served as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado and as executive director of the Center for Democracy & Citizenship at the Council for Excellence in Government for several years before moving back to Colorado to serve as executive director of the state Department of Higher Education from 2007 until resigning in 2009. His resignation raised eyebrows at the time, as no specific resignation reason was given; Skaggs merely cited a dispute with Gov. Bill Ritter. Immediately following his resignation, Skaggs was appointed the first chair of the board of the new Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) in 2008. After control of the House changed to the Republicans in 2010, former Florida Representative and CIA Director Porter Goss became OCE board chair, with Skaggs as co-chair.
Additionally, Skaggs was a member of the U. S. Public Interest Declassification Board from 2005 to 2016. Skaggs also served as co-chair of the Constitution Project's bipartisan War Powers Committee. He serves on the boards of trustees of the National Endowment for Democracy, as Vice-Chair, [url=http://www.ned.org] and the American University of Iraq - Sulaimani [url=http://auis.edu.krd/]. He received the 2017 Distinguished Service Award from the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress.
The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's David E. Skaggs Research Center in Boulder, Colorado, for which he secured funding, is named in his honor. He now is affiliated with the Denver office of the law firm Dentons US LLP where he serves as a senior strategic advisor and independent consultant.
Skaggs and his wife have 3 grandchildren, Liam, Maddie, and Will, who enjoy regular visits to the Skaggs farm outside Niwot, Colorado.