Thursday, March 29, 2012

Douglas Bruce will probably get away with this one ...

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Doug Bruce
  • Doug Bruce
A long, long time ago, I wrote a story about anti-tax crusader Douglas Bruce's attempts to duck campaign finance rules.

At the time, Bruce was running with his slate, the Reform Team, for a seat on Colorado Springs City Council. Bruce managed to wiggle out of reporting the contributions and expenditures to his and his cohorts campaigns by creating a political committee to funnel all the money through.

Sound sort of familiar? (Hint: Bruce is sitting in jail right now for funneling his personal money through a nonprofit he created in order to avoid paying taxes.)

Anyway, it gets more interesting. When I brought this all to light, Ethics Watch, an elections watchdog group, filed a complaint with the city. The city said the state should deal with the complaint — essentially asking the state government to enforce the city campaign rules.

The whole thing drug out endlessly, as the city sought repeatedly to get the courts to order the state to handle the issue. But recently, the case appeared to finally reach its end.

Surprise: The Colorado Court of Appeals says the city has to enforce its own laws.

Of course, it's probably a little late to slap Bruce's hand. Since he's already in jail.

Here's the report from Ethics Watch:

Good morning! I thought you’d like to know that, today, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed an administrative law judge’s ruling that the City of Colorado Springs must enforce its own campaign finance ordinances. The case arose from a request for investigation filed by Ethics Watch in 2011 against Douglas Bruce and the Reform Team PAC. Instead of investigating the allegations itself, as contemplated by the Colorado Springs City Charter, the City attempted to transfer the investigation by filing its own complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, which in turn referred the matter to the Office of Administrative Courts. Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer dismissed the City’s complaint, ruling that the City must investigate and enforce its own campaign finance laws.

“It is no secret that Colorado Springs’ system for regulating money in its municipal elections is badly in need of reform,” said Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “We hope that today’s ruling will make City leaders realize that they need to modernize their system and not just hope the Secretary of State will take care of their problems for them.”

The Secretary of State’s office filed an amicus brief in support of Ethics Watch’s position in the case.

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