Douglas Bruce Incident (a.k.a. “Brucewatch”)

Note, 4/1/2008: Though this post was originally written on 1/15/08, Representative Douglas Bruce has continued to make headlines for his inappropriate behavior in the Colorado House, and I’ve continued to post links to the articles about him. Therefore, it seems appropriate to take this April Fool’s Day opportunity to rechristen this post “Brucewatch.”


Some of you may have heard about the Douglas Bruce incident that took place on the floor of the Colorado House yesterday. If not, here are some links to bring you up to speed.

Bruce Alive and Kicking in the House (dead link)
Bruce Kicks Photographer During House Prayer (dead link)
Bruce Would Not Discuss Kicking Photographer in News Conference
Douglas Bruce’s Official Website

Today, I read that the House Minority Leader Mike May (mike.may.house@state.co.us) and the Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff (romanoff@coloradohouse.org), a Republican and a Democrat, have come together to launch an investigation into the incident.

House Panel to Investigate Lawmaker’s Kick at Photographer

Here is the text of an e-mail I just sent to both men. I hope those of you in Colorado will join me in these sentiments, no matter what your party affiliation may be.

Dear Mr. Romanoff and Mr. May,

I want to thank you for taking the initiative to investigate the actions of Douglas Bruce yesterday on the House floor. From all accounts, it was clearly a case of assault and intimidation, even if it didn’t result in significant injury. Coupled with Bruce’s insistence that he be sworn in during open session and his refusal to take his appointed seat in a timely manner, his actions make it clear that his priority is self-interest, rather than representing his constituents. His refusal to apologize for his inappropriate actions further cements this impression.

As I’ve heard others say, this is not a party issue, it is a human respect issue, and I commend you both for seeing beyond party lines to deal with the real issues.

In the end, I hope you find that the most appropriate action the House can take is expulsion. If this man resorts to violence as a first option — immediately after prayer, at that — he is not a man that I want in my state government.

Yours sincerely,

Stace Johnson
Federal Heights

Update 3:05 PM: I already received an e-mail acknowledgment from Mike May. The language in the e-mail seems fairly standard (i.e. a form letter), but I’m very pleased to have received acknowledgment at all in such a short time. Mr. May, thank you for your quick response!

Update 3:20 PM, 1/18/2008: The special committee investigating the actions of Douglas Bruce has recommended that Bruce be censured, and that he apologize to the full State House for his actions. So far, Bruce seems unrepentant, claiming that his heel kick was merely just shoving the photographer out of the way. Yeesh. Here’s the news update.

Update 1:20 PM, 1/20/2008: Bruce maintains that he did nothing wrong, and that merely “tapping” someone with the bottom of his shoe does not constitute a kick. Hmmm … Mr. Bruce, if you look at the video taken of you while you were performing the action, it appears that you not only tapped, but shoved (with your foot, i.e. kicked) the cameraman hard enough to make him lose his balance and knock over one of the cameras next to him. That seems like more than a “tap” to me, and yes, it does constitute assault (Simple assault, technically, a misdeameanor.) If you don’t know that, you shouldn’t be a lawmaker, Mr. Bruce. And if you can’t exert enough self-control to restrain yourself from committing a misdemeanor on the House floor, you should not be allowed in the House.

Update 9:10 PM, 1/23/2008: Lawmakers introduce an unprecedented resolution to censure Representative Bruce. It’s not expulsion, and it remains to be seen whether Bruce will have to stand on the House floor before his peers while the censure is delivered, but the Colorado House has never before resolved to censure a Representative, so it is a pretty strong punishment.

Update 4:38 PM, 1/24/2008: Bruce compares himself to Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington during a rambling defensive speech after censure.

Update 4:51 PM, 2/15/2008: Keep it up, Bruce. Now he’s refusing to vote on health care resolutions and veterans’ rights issues, despite being a (now former) member of the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. See all that smoke behind you, Mr. Bruce? Those are the bridges you are burning, and if you keep being uncooperative as a representative of your constituency, you will have a short time in the Colorado House.

Update 9:50 AM, 2/21/2008: Under the microscope. Mr. Bruce submitted expense reports for the five days that he delayed taking office earlier this year. That’s $750. Fortunately, someone caught it, and he says it was a clerical error and will return the money. Why don’t I believe him? I would say this is a witch hunt, except that Mr. Bruce has clearly broken the rules repeatedly, and there’s documentation to back up the claims. I can’t imagine that he will hold office for long.

Update 10:11 PM, 4/1/2008: Dirty Campaigning at the Capitol. Today, Mr. Bruce decided to deliver fliers to his fellow Republicans in the Colorado House, attacking his opponent in this year’s Republican Primary. This brought yet another warning to Bruce from House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who determined that the brash campaigning, while not necessarily against the rules of the legislature, was in poor taste. Seems consistent to me; I have yet to hear of Representative Bruce doing anything in good taste since he took his House seat.

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