Suthers to file contempt motion against Doug Bruce, ‘Mr X’

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers plans to seek sanctions for contempt of court against elusive Colorado Springs anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce. The news suggests some consequence might be in the offing for Bruce after he spent weeks flouting a court order to produce documents and give testimony as part of a case concerning three tax-slashing ballot initiatives secretly authored and illegally financed by Bruce.

Colo. A.G. John Suthers

Suthers, in a motion filed today in Denver (pdf), asked the district court to recognize that Bruce had been properly served in advance of a motion Suthers will file next week “seeking sanctions for contempt” against Bruce.

Bruce dodged at least 30 attempts to serve him with a court order to testify in the high-profile campaign finance hearing. The hearing, which went on without him, connected him to efforts to get three statewide tax-slashing initiatives on the ballot. Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer concluded that Bruce was heavily involved as the mysterious Mr X in efforts to prepare and promote the three measures: amendments 60, 61 and 101.

Included as Exhibit One in the motion filed today is an article from the Colorado Springs Gazette, where Bruce is quoted defiantly bragging that he traveled to Pennslyvania and he “didn’t have to clear with anybody in the government whether I want to go on vacation.”

The motion filed by Suthers Friday argues that Bruce had been officially and properly served papers requiring him to appear before the judge and that he was knowingly dodging the request. The coming contempt of court charge is based on the details outlined in today’s filing. Indeed, news that Suthers intends to file the contempt motion next week comes in a footnote in the motion filed today.

“Petitioners intend to file a motion seeking sanctions for contempt during the week of June 14, 2010,” reads the footnote.

The motion details the “cat and mouse” game Bruce played with the state, according to the document, and makes a strong case that he did so knowingly, citing the Gazette article but also a paper and email trail that remarkably includes a letter the litiginous Bruce sent in May to the Attorney General’s office on an unrelated separate lawsuit. The letter was postmarked from Colorado Springs during the days when officials were repeatedly attempting to serve Bruce to appear before Judge Spencer and during the days he suggested he was in Pennsylvania on vacation.

“The rules governing service of process are not ‘designed to create an obstacle course for [serving parties] to navigate, or a cat-and-mouse game for defendants who are otherwise subject to the court’s jurisdiction…”” the author of the motion writes.

“Mr Bruce is not ignorant of the law… He should not be allowed to ignore his obligations as a citizen of Colorado to appear, give testimony and produce documents in lawful proceeding… His actions are an affront to the [Administrative Law Judge] and this Court… and his apparent efforts to avoid service of this Court’s May 10 order should not be allowed to continue.”

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Armando Montaño

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