Monday, May 4, 2015

Why Helen Collins is innocent, according to Doug Bruce

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 5:40 PM

click to enlarge Bruce tells his side at the Ethics Commission meeting.
  • Bruce tells his side at the Ethics Commission meeting.
Douglas Bruce spoke to the Colorado Springs Independent Ethics Commission today as part of its investigation into an ethics complaint filed by City Attorney Wynetta Massey against City Councilor Helen Collins.

Bruce told us what went down. The public was barred from the meeting.

The bottom line is that Bruce says he asked Collins to convey his late mother's condominium to a third party buyer in December so he could avoid the possibility of a nullified transaction. He says a buyer could make any number of accusations about the condition of the property because Bruce is a felon. (Bruce was convicted a few years ago of tax evasion, but is appealing that conviction.)

To avoid that, he asked Collins if she would accept the property and then convey it to the buyer the next day, which she did.

Here's some background on the ethics complaint.

Before showing up this afternoon at the Ethics Commission meeting, Bruce paid the city $7,800 for a court judgment for court costs and attorney fees in an unrelated lawsuit he filed against the city and lost last fall. The case is on appeal, and, he says, he wouldn't have had to pay it, but the city sent him a five-page interrogatory that asked him to list every piece of property, even personal property, that he owns "under penalty of perjury."

He didn't want to take the chance the city would use this as an opportunity to again torture him, he says.

About his appearance before the Ethics Commission: "I laid into those people and said this entire case is beyond frivolous. I told them the whole story. I decided to have an intermediary between me and the buyer because someone might try to undo the deal if they did a deal with a felon. They couldn't do that if Helen signed the deed."

More: "I tried to point out to them, I got Helen's permission. 'Is it OK with you if you're an owner for a day?' A buffer. People do that all the time. There's nothing sinister about signing a piece of paper. This is a transitory, temporary pass-through. She got nothing except grief. I had her endorse it [the check] and I put it in my bank account."

Bruce told the commission it was being used to generate some frenzy because they think something was wrong. The potential penalty for the ethics violation, if there was one, is three two times the value of the personal gain. "There's nothing there," he says. "There was no personal gain" for Collins.

He says he told the commission, "You should be ashamed for being used this way. What you did was dishonorable."

He noted that although the City Attorney's Office knew of the transaction on Dec. 8, it waited 44 days to file an ethics violation — after the recall of Collins was well underway.

Collins testified previously to the commission and read this statement:
click to enlarge Collins read a statement when called before the Ethics Commission.
  • Collins read a statement when called before the Ethics Commission.

On December 4, 2014, my friend Douglas Bruce asked me to agree to be the temporary owner of record of 1240 Samuel Point in Colorado Springs as an intermediary in order to sign the deed to the buyer. That is similar to signing as a power of attorney, signing for a corporation, or other act as a buffer.

Mr. Bruce is on economic crime probation terms in a case on appeal. He did not want government to try to pressure the buyer to complain about the sale, nor to try to undo the sale, to punish him further. The townhouse sale closing was December 8. I agreed to accept that deed as a nominal pass through party so the buyer would acquire title through me.

That government has now created this issue for purposes of exploitive city publicity and an alleged probation violation proves his prediction and judgment about government vindictiveness towards him were correct.

Mr. Bruce recorded a deed to me late Thursday afternoon, December 4. Since I did not buy the property, I paid no consideration, despite standard form printed words. I was not present at the recording and never saw that deed.

On December 5, around noon, Mr. Bruce and I went to the escrow company. I signed the deed to the buyer. The company gave Mr. Bruce the closing papers, I authorized Mr. Bruce to pick up the closing check, and we left. I have no copies of any papers regarding this perfunctory transaction.

On December 8, Mr. Bruce picked up the closing check and came to City Hall, where I endorsed the check to him of his net proceeds from the sale of that townhouse he inherited from his mother in 2007 under joint tenancy ownership.

I did not know until about January 21 of the existence of a $7,600 judgment that had allegedly been issued about 9 a.m. on the morning of December 5, nor of its being recorded late that afternoon. Mr. Bruce and I never discussed that $7,600 judgment before that January 21 complaint by the city attorney was furnished to me. That $7,600 judgment is on appeal and thus not final. The Court of Appeals has already ruled the judgment is properly appealed.

The city attorney knew by December 8 the $7,600 could not be taken from the townhouse which was not in Mr. Bruce's name. The city attorney waited 44 days to file her complaint. A recall petition was filed December 19, recall signatures filed on January 8, and the city clerk said a week later enough signatures were validated. Only after that did the city attorney file her complaint against me. She delayed filing for improper political motives—to influence the recall election.

Note that my association with Mr. Bruce was one of the grounds for recall in my opponents' petition and ballot statements. This complaint was filed to corroborate that irrelevant “guilt-by-association,” a term used by promoters of the recall.

By your own rules, the complaint was confidential. Only the city attorney and this commission knew of it, but it was soon leaked anonymously to reporter Pam Zubeck at the Independent newspaper, which printed a story about its delivery and contents. As with the complaint, the purpose of the leak was to affect the outcome of the recall, which I won. The IEC even tried to divert my time from the recall, demanding over my objection I submit my defense three days after the election.

This entire proceeding is an overt witch hunt to attack Mr. Bruce and punish me for knowing him. It is not unethical to be friends with a former legislator, county commissioner and the author of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. It is neither unethical nor a crime to sign a deed to a home buyer. All legal violations are on your side. Pursuing the perception/appearance of a public trust violation is only an unconstitutional hunting license issued to my political foes. You are their dupes.

The $7,600 judgment lien still exists on Mr. Bruce's nine remaining buildings in this county. The collateral is over 250-to-1. The city's “loss” is ZERO. In fact, the city may earn interest on the judgment, which it would not in the city's checking account. The potential fine is twice the amount of my personal gain from signing the deed (ZERO). Two times ZERO is ZERO. Your sham is a vicious vendetta.

This commission is being used for a corrupt publicity stunt. The city attorney resents my voting against her pay raise to $192,000 yearly, twice the mayor's salary. She intentionally stalled for over a year my draft ordinance to reduce business fees about $400,000, which is less than one-tenth of one percent of total annual city revenue. I have criticized her openly and on my web site. I do so here.

This commission violated its own confidentiality rules. It has dishonestly ruled non frivolous this complaint, which is void on its face. The city has spent much more on attorney fees than the amount of the judgment, which still exists. You now have an (unethical) incentive to recommend I be found liable so the city can recover city money you foolishly spent. You have been the city attorney's pawns, in whose offices you meet and who normally represents you. Each of you should reject this bogus complaint and then resign. The only advice you should give to the council is the total repeal of all ordinances and resolutions establishing and governing the IEC.

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