Republican Ken Buck reaches across aisle to form bipartisan House Reformers Caucus

Author: Ernest Luning - December 7, 2017 - Updated: December 9, 2017

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, talks about his new book "Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think," which publishes this week, at a book-launch event on Monday, April 10, 2017, at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

U.S. Reps. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, and Kathleen Rice, a Long Island Democrat, on Wednesday launched a bipartisan House caucus devoted to coming up with what organizers call common-sense congressional reforms.

The two lawmakers — both former elected district attorneys — are co-chairs of the Congressional Reformers Caucus, which counts 10 Democrats and nine Republicans on its initial roster, their offices announced. U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, is also a member.

“Washington is broken,” Buck said in a statement. “Donors and insiders have too much influence, and too often backroom deals trip up good legislation. Political party has nothing to do with good governance, which is why I’m proud to be joined by my friend, Rep. Kathleen Rice, and a bipartisan group of colleagues who all want a Congress that works for the people.”

Buck, who published a tell-all book about Washington corruption earlier this year — it’s called “Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think,” and that’s the story it tells — added that he’s looking forward to working with the caucus on legislation to improve the country’s trust in democracy.

Rice said in a statement that caucus members “come from across the political spectrum and disagree on plenty of issues,” which could be an understatement in some cases.

Buck, for instance, purportedly belongs to the far-right House Freedom Caucus — the powerful but secretive group doesn’t disclose its membership, but President Donald Trump identified Buck as a member in a tweet praising an article he’d written — while Coffman tends toward more centrist groups, such as the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. There’s even more distance between the parties on the new panel.

Nonetheless, Rice said, “[I]t’s obvious to all of us that Congress is in dire need of reform, and we’re committed to taking real action to change the status quo in Washington, reduce the influence of money in our political process, and get our government back to work for the people we serve.”

Its organizers say they were moved to form the group — one of more than 200 House caucuses, officially called Congressional Member Organizations — because confidence in Congress is at an all-time low, and Americans are worried donors and Washington insiders are running the show.

The caucus’s bywords are transparency, fairness and ethics, showing up in that order in a couple of quotes from founding members included in a release about its debut.

“I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort to restore greater transparency, fairness, and ethics to the legislative process,” said Massachusetts Democrat Seth Moulton. “Leaders should be held to a higher standard. It’s time to bring integrity to Washington, D.C.”

The other original members of the group are Democrats Scott Peters of California, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, Tom O’Halleran of Arizona, Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Donald Norcross of New Jersey and John Sarbanes of Maryland; and Republicans Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Jack Bergman of Michigan, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rodney Davis of Illinois and Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.