Bruce wrote ballot issues, critics claim
Foes of 3 anti-tax measures file complaint against him
Colorado Springs antitax crusader Douglas Bruce is the person behind the three controversial ballot questions that would dramatically cut taxes and fees and limit government bonding, opponents of those measures said Tuesday.
And the group fighting his measures — Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 — have filed a complaint against him and his nonprofit group, Active Citizens Together, for failing to disclose what it collected and spent in getting the citizens initiatives on next month’s ballot.
“Our goal all along has been to find out who is behind these ballot measures that will cost so many Coloradans their jobs,” said Bill Ray, policy director for Coloradans for Responsible Reform, the main issue committee opposing the measures. “We still don’t know where ACT got the money in the first place to fund the petition drive or who wrote the measures, (but) tax-exempt contributions to ACT were used to pay a signature-gathering firm, and those contributions continue to fund campaign activities.”
Bruce created the group in 2001, but little is known about it other than being listed with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Repeated calls to Bruce’s Colorado Springs home went unanswered Tuesday. Bruce is well-known in Colorado for getting the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights into the state’s Constitution in 1992. Bruce also served one year in the Colorado House of Representatives.
On Oct. 1, Bruce’s group made an $11,676 in-kind donation to Colorado Tax Reforms, the main issue committee supporting the measures, but Natalie Menten, campaign coordinator of that group, said the money was used for campaign fliers and signs and not petitions.
Other than that donation, Menten said Bruce has had no direct involvement in her campaign. Still, she said it matters little that he was behind getting the measures on the ballot.
“The group that I run with, we all believe in fiscally sound government,” she said. “So the people that I know admire him for what he’s done in the past with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and petition rights and all the various things that he’s advocated for.”
The complaint, filed Monday by Ray, alleges Bruce signed more than $100,000 in checks from ACT’s bank account to pay signature-gatherers to circulate the petitions that got the measures on the ballot.
By law, groups that spend more than $200 on an initiative must create an issue committee with the Secretary of State’s Office and regularly report contributions and expenditures. Bruce has not done that, said Denver attorney Mark Grueskin, who represents Ray in the complaint.
Bruce’s involvement in the measures came to light during a deposition of him as part of a lawsuit in Denver District Court, which was filed last spring to find out who was behind the measures, Grueskin said. The court tried more than 30 times to serve Bruce with a subpoena to compel him to testify about that involvement.
Grueskin said a state administrative law judge isn’t likely to rule on the case until after the election, but it was important to file the complaint anyway because it lets voters know who’s really behind the initiatives, and it sends a message to others who don’t want to follow the rules.
“If you don’t do it, in the next cycle people say to one another, ‘There’s a way to avoid the law. We’ll never have to tell anyone where this initiative came from,’ ” he said. “Getting this resolved, getting a clear decision that hiding money even on a ballot-initiative campaign is against the law sends a powerful signal.”