Convicted tax cheat Douglas Bruce will become jailbird Douglas Bruce on Friday.
Lots of people, including many Republicans, will celebrate Bruce’s sentence, handed down Monday by Denver District Judge Anne Mansfield.
Trouble is, as the man begins his 179-day term in the Denver County Jail, the rest of us in Colorado still must live with the beast he created. That would be the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — the shining achievement of Bruce’s troubled, often bizarre career as an anti-tax activist.
Although Coloradans love the TABOR provision allowing them to vote on tax increases, most have never bothered themselves with TABOR’s poisonous math.
Vote on taxes? Never get rid of that.
The math? It should all be junked.
Anyone who has had to deal with the business end of TABOR knows this is true, including many GOP officials. These Republicans — and there are many in El Paso County — celebrate Bruce’s travails today, but they remain slavishly and hypocritically devoted to TABOR, at least outwardly.
This is because many in the Grand Old Party still cling to the TABOR catechism, although if asked to explain the math to an audience, they couldn’t.
Bruce still will have a cadre of flat-Earth-believing followers. As they wipe the spittle from their upper lips they’ll nod enthusiastically when they see their hero on television, saying “I have been the subject of prosecution and persecution since the TABOR amendment passed.”
They’ll guffaw if they see the part where he compares Judge Mansfield to the mad queen in “Through the Looking Glass.”
Under the strict conditions of his probation, Bruce will have to reveal all of his financial details. Whether the virulently anti-establishment Bruce can toe the line for six years of that is a question.
If he can’t, a six-year prison term awaits. His worries may increase because the Internal Revenue Service will begin its own investigation.
So Bruce has been found guilty. He gets six years of probation, must pay restitution and will be serving a little jail time. He’ll get out in six months while the rest of us remain stuck in TABOR’s dark budget hole.
All because in 1992 when Colorado was mired in recession, it listened to Bruce, a troubled social misfit whose intellect has been vastly overrated, whose flim-flammery equates to a form of political alchemy.
Few officials — and in our area they are almost all Republican — have demonstrated the intelligence and guts needed to rid us of TABOR.
So celebrate Bruce’s fate if you like. But on Friday only his world will change.
The rest us still will be prisoners, living with the rabid beast he created.
Listen to Barry Noreen on KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM at 6:35 a.m. on Fridays and read his blog updates at gazette.com