Colorado Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler: Protecting Citizen Participation in Politics--and Covering up for Convicted Felon Doug Bruce:
I first heard this story over Labor Day Weekend on Colorado Public Radio (CPR). “It’s a pretty sweet deal. Three men, facing thousands of dollars in fines for campaign finance violations, wound up getting slapped with the equivalent of a parking ticket,” thanks to the personal intervention of Scott Gessler [ the focus of my preceding post on OS]. The three men managed to get three initiatives onto a statewide ballot without filing a single campaign finance report, as required by law. Democratic attorney Mark Grueskin [also mentioned in my previous post] said he’d never seen anything like it: “Money was being spent to change the law. But no one was willing to say where the money was coming from, or how it was being spent.”
The initiatives were Amendments 60 & 61 and Proposition 101 on the 2010 ballot. They would’ve slashed Colorado taxes and severely restricted state finances. The three, Jeff Gross, Louis Schroeder, and Russell Haas, dummied up in court, claiming they had no idea who actually gave them the money to put them on the ballot but since it wasn’t them, they didn’t have to file anything.
At trial, before the November election, the judge disagreed, concluding their testimony was “not believable and demonstrates a desire to hide the identity of that benefactor from public disclosure.” He fined each man $2,000 and ordered them each to file at least one report listing contributions from Mr. X. They did not, instead stalling, evading and procrastinating for 15 months, racking up tens of thousands of dollars in late fines. State officials sent them numerous warnings that they were not in compliance with the either the court order or the law and that cumulative fines were mounting, eventually totaling over $20,000 apiece. Last fall, 15 months late, they finally filed their forms. Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler stepped in and personally reduced their total fines to $50 apiece.
“Do you want me to impose a $23,000 fine against local activists so they may lose their homes, because they participate in politics?” Gessler stated, explaining he didn’t consider willfully ignoring a court order to be a violation of election law. He went on to say “I don’t know if they’ll ever participate in a ballot initiative again in their lives. Which is a loss to the state of Colorado, which is a loss to humanity, when you’ve deterred people from ever being involved in politics again like that.”
(Oh, the humanity!)
Even Natalie Meyer, a Republican and Colorado’s longest-serving former Secretary of State, was taken aback and said letting people skirt the law encourages more of it. And sends the message, “If you wait long enough, you can get away with it. And that’s not a good policy for any law.”
So who was the Mysterious behind-the-scenes ‘Mister X’ these three men went to such lengths to cover up for until a year after the election was held?
Douglas Bruce, a cantankerous, volatile, quarrelsome “Republican Activist” famous in Colorado. Convicted of four felonies and numerous lesser offenses, Doug Bruce’s big achievement is getting a constitutional amendment passed in 1992 (after being defeated in 1988 & 1990) called the Taxpayers Bill of Rights or TABOR amendment for short, which imposes strict limits on state taxes, budgets, borrowing, and spending. State and local attempts to legally escape or mitigate those effects are referred to in Colorado as”de-Brucing” After years of complex wrangling, by 2007 over half of Colorado’s school districts and counties had “de-Bruced.”
Definitely “a wild-and-crazy guy,” Doug Bruce, who started out in Southern California, was involved in several protracted property tax disputes there before he moved to Colorado in 1986, has stood for office many times and been defeated almost every time. Even settling in the picturesque but highly conservative city of Colorado Springs, (home to the Air Force Academy, Fort Carson, Schriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base, NORAD, and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family) the irascible Bruce has quarreled with virtually everybody, including his fellow conservative Republicans, some of whom publically call him a “narcissist,”“sociopath," and “crackpot”. Heventually won election to the El Paso County commission in 2004, his only electoral victory. There he quarreled continuously with his peers and was often on the losing end of 4-1 votes by the commission. He denounced a grant to an anti-poverty agency, calling it a “handout to deadbeats.” Bruce’s many rental properties were frequently cited as “dilapidated” but instead of denying he was a slumlord, Doug Bruce instead denied that any government agency or court had any authority over him or his properties. He often claimed to have sold the properties when records showed he still owned them years later. He became famous for filing frivolous lawsuits against his many critics. His behavior appears to be that of someone who recognizes no legal obligations or authority, someone who seriously believes he is above the law, and a law unto himself. In 1995 he served 8 days in jail for contempt of court. Appointed to fill a vacancy in Colorado House of Representatives in December 2007, he demanded to be sworn in before the entire legislature. Even his own Republican allies voted 22-1 to rebuke him for that and insist he be sworn in the usual private ceremony. A new rule was passed by the entire house to address the issue in the future. On his first day as a lawmaker, Doug Bruce kicked a Rocky Mountain News photographer on the floor of the legislature, and so became the first legislator in Colorado history to be formally censured by his fellow members. The vote was 62-1, which tells you something. He denounced the GOP state agenda as just “streamlining socialism.” Eight months later, in August 2008 he was defeated in the GOP primary and his brief tenure in statewide office was soon over.
In his last months there he created another controversy by opposing a guest worker proram for Meixcans by saying, “we don’t need 5000 more illiterate peasants in Colorado.” The “illiterate peasants” phrase went viral, so to speak, & was denounced by conservatives as well as liberals. Other times he agitated to abolish all property tax, all vehicle taxes and fees, and privatize public-owned utilities. He became enraged at not finding much support and decided that meant he was the victim of a conspiracy.
In 2011 Doug Bruce was convicted of four counts of felony criminal activity including money laundering, attempted bribery, attempted improver influence of a public official, and tax fraud. The jury found him guilty of engaging in “decades-worth of criminal activity” including cheating Colorado out of millions of dollars under the guise of charity and anti-tax organizations. In court Bruce showed contempt for the legal process by repeatedly showing up late and “introducing evidence” by throwing documents onto the floor of the courtroom. He was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to “make extensive financial disclosures to the court to ensure he does not become a repeat offender.” The presiding judge Agnes Mansfield concluded “the defendant has absolutely no regard for the rule of law.”
Doug Bruce began his sentence for the four felony convictions in a minimum-security prison on February 17, 2012. He served 104 days with time off for good behavior and was released in June 2012.
This is the man Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, the state overseer of elections, is so concerned to ensure his continued ability to involve himself in the political process, even though he is a convicted felon, convicted of fraud, money laundering, misuse of campaign funds, and tax fraud against the state of Colorado. To do otherwise to him or his surrogates, would “be a loss to Colorado, which is a loss to humanity.”
(Oh the compassion! Oh, the humanity!)
At the same time if you are a Democrat, an African-American, or a Hispanic voter, Gessler will demand you have your papers in order to display upon demand by overtly racist True the Vote cadres & vigilantes, and insist it’s your own damn problem if you do not.