Ken Salazar was elected to the United States Senate in November 2004 as Colorado's thirty-fifth United States Senator.
A fifth generation Coloradan, Ken and his family have been farmers and ranchers in the San Luis Valley since before Colorado became a state.
As Colorado’s Senator, Ken Salazar fights for Colorado’s people. He champions a strong defense and homeland security, including military, veterans and law enforcement needs; economic opportunity and security, including energy independence; revitalizing rural America and agriculture; affordable health care; and protecting America’s land and water.
In his freshman year, Senator Salazar played a leading role in many bipartisan approaches to solving problems important to Americans. Ken helped spearhead the “Gang of 14” agreement between seven Republican and seven Democratic Senators, ending the Senate impasse on judicial appointments that threatened to destroy the Senate’s historic foundations.
Salazar helped lead the successful bipartisan effort to pass the National Energy Policy Act of 2005, an important first step toward energy independence. He has since helped form a bipartisan coalition of ten Senators pressing for greater use of renewable fuels and improved motor vehicle efficiency.
He worked with Republicans and Democrats to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act so that it provides our Nation’s law enforcement agencies with the tools necessary to fight terrorism while at the same time ensuring that our basic constitutional rights are protected. Senator Salazar has also partnered with Arizona Senator John McCain to propose a national, non-partisan commission to undertake a fresh review of health care in America, and to develop real solutions to our health care crisis.
Ken is a member of five Senate Committees: Agriculture, Energy & Natural Resources, Veterans Affairs, Ethics, and Aging.
Before his election to the U.S. Senate, Ken Salazar served for six years as Colorado's 36th Attorney General from 1999 through 2004, winning statewide elections to that office in 1998 and 2002. Ken served as chairman of the Conference of Western Attorneys General and received the “Profiles in Courage” award from his fellow state attorneys general in recognition of his dedication to preserving and promoting the rule of law. Ken Salazar led efforts to fight crime and to make Colorado communities safer, strengthen the state’s sex offender laws, address youth and family violence, enhance and enforce Colorado's consumer protection laws, combat fraud against the elderly, and protect Colorado's environment.
As Attorney General Ken Salazar established the first-ever Colorado Attorney General Fugitive Prosecutions Unit to apprehend and prosecute fugitive murderers, the first-ever Attorney General Gang Prosecution Unit, and an Environmental Crimes Unit.
From 1990 to 1994 Ken Salazar served in the Cabinet of Governor Roy Romer as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Among his accomplishments as executive director, Ken crafted reforms for oil, mining, and gas operations to better protect the environment and the public, protected Colorado’s interstate water compacts, and created the Youth in Natural Resources program that allowed thousands of Colorado’s young people to work on and learn about Colorado’s natural resources. And he co-authored the Colorado constitutional amendment creating Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), led the successful campaign for its passage, and served as its first chairman. GOCO is the most successful land conservation effort in modern Colorado history.
Ken has been a farmer and rancher in the San Luis Valley, a natural resources lawyer, and small business owner much of his life. He and his wife have owned radio stations in Pueblo and Denver and have owned and operated a Dairy Queen in Westminster. Ken Salazar has also served as the chief legal counsel to the Governor, chairman of the Rio Grande Compact Commission, and practiced water, environmental and public lands law for eleven years in the private sector.
One of eight brothers and sisters, Ken graduated from Centauri High School in Conejos County in 1973, attended St. Francis Seminary, received a political science degree from Colorado College in 1977, and graduated with a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1981. Salazar also received honorary doctorates of law from Colorado College in 1993 and the University of Denver in 1999.
Ken and his wife, Hope, have two teenage daughters, Melinda and Andrea. Ken's older brother, John Salazar, was elected to the United States Congress in November 2004 from Colorado's 3rd Congressional District.
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