May 26, 2010
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said his office probably would go to district court to seek a remedy against Douglas Bruce for failing to respond to a judge’s order compelling his testimony in a campaign-finance complaint.
“We’re going to pursue other available remedies, and I suspect they will take place rather quickly,” Suthers said Wednesday.
Suthers declined to speculate on what those remedies might be, but he acknowledged the case involved “contempt issues and things like that.”
Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, whose office oversees elections, said, “I hope that Mr. Bruce respects the people of Colorado and their commitment to transparency in government and ultimately cooperates with the administrative law judge.”
The campaign-finance complaint revolves around the question of who financed the effort to get Amendment 60, Amendment 61, and Proposition 101 on the November ballot. Signature gatherers collected more than 400,000 signatures for the three measures, which collectively would limit the ability of local and state government to borrow money or raise taxes.
A hearing on the campaign finance complaint was held Monday and Tuesday in Denver before Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer. Spencer was clearly unhappy that Bruce refused to respond to subpoenas for the deposition and hearing. “The law doesn’t give me contempt power. If it did, I would exercise it,” he said.
Bruce, the author of the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and a lawyer by training, has sought to distance himself from the three measures, but testimony and exhibits in the hearing revealed that he acted as a puppet master, coaching the proponents of the measures from an e-mail address called email@example.com.
Since May 4, sheriff’s deputies or process servers have attempted 29 times to serve Bruce, a Colorado Springs resident, with a court order issued by Denver District Judge Brian Whitney.
Process servers have gone to Bruce’s house in the morning, afternoon and evenings. They described trash being moved, newspapers picked up, and lights turned on and off in various parts of the house. But they were never able to serve Bruce with the order.
The attorney general nevertheless contends Bruce has been given adequate notice through express mail, e-mail, news articles and packages left at his door. Suthers, who once worked as a prosecutor, said serving people with court orders can be difficult. “If we’re not successful, we ask the court to step in.”
Mark Grueskin, an attorney representing a coalition of civic leaders and business groups opposed to the three measures, said Bruce’s noncompliance was a serious matter. “If word goes out that subpoenas can be dodged by holing up your basement with canned food and bottled water, then anything goes,” he said during the hearing.