Campaign finance hearing ties Douglas Bruce to Colorado tax measures
DENVER, Colorado: After much speculation a campaign finance complaint hearing earlier this week revealed that Douglas Bruce, a political activist and author of Colorado TABOR amendment, was in fact a "guiding force" in Proposition 101, Amendment 60 and Amendment 61. All three measures are currently scheduled to appear on the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot.
On Monday proponents said they received ballot language and instructions form a "Mr. X" in unsigned emails. Michelle Northrup testified that she believed "Mr. X" was Douglas Bruce. During the hearing Northrup said she didn't approve of the evasion tactics being used by proponents of the ballot measures. Specifically, according to May 24 testimony, proponents said they received advice from Bruce on the language of the ballot measures, how to get the measures approved for the ballot by the Secretary of State's Office and on the signature petition campaign.
Attempts to subpoena Bruce in time for the May 24 hearing failed. Mark Grueskin, lawyer challenging campaign contributions, asked Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer to keeping the hearing open until Bruce's testimony could be collected but Spencer denied the request. According to the judge a decision on the finance complaints will be issued in 15 days.
The campaign finance complaint was filed by a coalition of opponents to all three measures, all of which are represented by Grueskin. Opponents requested an explanation as to how the proponents of the measures spent $200 or less to print and circulate the petitions. According to state law, if more than $200 is spent to place a proposal on the ballot, proponents must register issue committees. Protect Colorado’s Communities argued that it takes thousands of dollars to place a measure on the ballot.
A campaign finance hearing was initiated in April in an effort to clarify who financed the signature-gathering effort for the three petitions. Officials first said they believed Bruce was involved in the campaign when they learned that eight professional petition circulators lived in an apartment near Colorado Springs owned by Bruce.
In related news, Gov. Bill Ritter signed House Bill 1370 on Monday. HB 1370 requires that ballot issue committees register with the state and begin disclosing financial information as soon 200 or more petitions are printed and distributed.
- Campaign finance requirements for Colorado ballot measures
- Colorado 2010 ballot measures
- The Huffington Post, "Doug Bruce Identified By Ballot Initiative Backers As Man Behind Controversial Measures," May 24, 2010
- Associated Press, "Proponents on tax, fee measures on November ballot cite "Mr. X" as source," May 24, 2010 (dead link)
- The Gazette, "Witness ties Douglas Bruce to three ballot measures," May 24, 2010
- The Gazette, "Hearing lifts veil on campaign for disputed measures," May 26, 2010
- The Denver Daily, "Group challenges anti-tax ballot proposals," January 6, 2010
- The Gazette, "Douglas Bruce a no-show at campaign finance hearing," April 23, 2010
- The Denver Post, "Measure forces ballot initiative disclosures," May 26, 2010
- Denver Business Journals, "Ritter signs bills on various business issues," May 25, 2010