Buck was born in Ossining, New York in 1959. He and his two brothers were encouraged by their parents, both New York lawyers, to attend Ivy League colleges, and Buck earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1981. Buck later said that the Princeton degree was "more important to [my father] than me". 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.
After college Buck moved west and worked in Wyoming at the state legislative services office and received a law 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.
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.
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. Only one of the three men initially indicted on felony charges was convicted, for a misdemeanor offense. Buck said he is "not proud" of the incident that effectively ended his career with the Justice Department, but says he felt it was "unethical" to prosecute such a "weak" case against the three men. One of the three men donated $700 to Buck's 2010 Senate campaign.
Buck was elected the District Attorney for Weld County, Colorado in 2004. When he suspected that Social Security numbers were being stolen by illegal 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. Buck has said that his time enforcing laws for the Justice Department and Weld County stoked his desire to become a lawmaker himself.
During the 2010 Senate race, The Colorado Independent ran an article entitled "Suspect in 2005 Buck rape case said he knew it was rape,". The article, about a case Buck refused to prosecute in 2006, included a complete transcript of a tape between the victim and her attacker, including the following dialogue:
Victim: “You do realize that … it’s rape.”
Suspect: “Yeah, I do.”
Victim: “Like in a number of different ways, because I didn’t want to do it and because I was intoxicated and because I was afraid.”
Suspect: “Yes I do. I know.”
The tape, which Greeley police had the victim record during their investigation, was available before Buck made his decision not to prosecute the woman's admitted rapist. According to a following article in the Independent, "Buck’s refusal to prosecute 2005 rape case reverberates in U.S. Senate race," the reporter provides a transcript of another tape of a conversation between the woman and Buck, in which "Buck appears to all but blame her for the rape and tells her that her case would never fly with a Weld County jury."
“A jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse,” he told the Greeley Tribune in 2006.
“That comment made me feel horrible,” the victim told the Colorado Independent in 2010. “The offender admitted he did it, but Ken Buck said I was to blame. Had he (Buck) not attacked me, I might have let it go. But he put the blame on me, and I was furious. I still am furious,” she said. According to the Independent, "A man entered the alleged victim’s apartment and had sex with her while she was drunk, she says. As she passed in and out of consciousness, she says she told him “no” and tried to push him away. If he had been a stranger, the case may have played out differently, but he was a former lover, and she had invited him over."
In the meeting that she recorded, Buck said, “It appears to me … that you invited him over to have sex with him," and that he thought she might have wanted to file rape charges to retaliate against the man for some bad feeling left over from when they had been lovers more than a year earlier. According to the Independent, "Buck also comes off on this tape as being at least as concerned with the woman’s sexual history and alcohol consumption as he is with other facts of the case."
Drawing on Buck's abortion stance, the Independent also points out that "The suspect in this case had claimed that the victim had at one point a year or so before this event become pregnant with his child and had an abortion, which she denies, saying she miscarried. The suspect’s claim, though, is in the police report, and Buck refers to it as a reason she may be motivated to file charges where he thinks none are warranted."
Angered by what he later called the nation's "lurch to the left, Buck announced his plans to run for U.S. senator on April 28, 2009. 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. Buck also stressed mounting governmental debt, an issue to which he was to frequently return throughout the primary campaign. 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.
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".
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.
Although Buck positioned himself as the candidate for the Tea Party movement during the Republican primary, 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. Tea Party leader Lu Busse criticized Buck's "choice of words" and inclination to treat all Tea Party adherents as a uniform group.
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." Buck later stated that he was responding to Norton's television ad claiming he was not "man enough" to attack her himself. (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." After Buck's former supervisor, 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".
On August 10, Buck defeated Norton in the Republican primary election by a 52% to 48% margin, 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."
In the November general election, Buck was defeated by Senator Michael Bennet, 46.4%-48.1% respectively.
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. In March 2014, Buck withdrew from the race following the entrance of Rep. Cory Gardner, and decided to run for Gardner's House seat instead.
Buck won the Republican primary, defeating three other candidates, with 44% of the vote and proceeded to win the general election, defeating Democratic nominee Vic Meyers with 65% of the vote.Committee on the Judiciary
Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Subcommittee on Government Operations
Subcommittee on Interior
Buck opposes abortion, including in cases of rape and incest, but makes exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger.
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.” 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." The Log Cabin Republicans have rebuked him for this comment.
He opposes the health care reform laws that were enacted in 2010. He instead favors free market-based reforms. 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.” 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.
Buck proposed privatizing Veterans Administration hospitals so they would "be better run". 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."
Buck supports a revamp of the Department of Education and questions the department's constitutionality. 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". He also stated that if elected to the Senate he would never raise taxes.
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." According to a Buck spokesman, "Ken believes there is global warming but thinks the evidence points to it being natural rather than man-made."
Buck married his Princeton girlfriend in 1984, and they divorced in 1994. His mother introduced him to his current wife, Perry Lynn Buck, after meeting her at a gathering for antiques collectors; they married in 1996. Formerly a successful banker and businesswoman, Perry Buck had "given up much of her professional life" to support her husband in his Senate campaign. He 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. Daughter Kaitlin (born 1991) received college credit to work on her father's 2010 Senate campaign.