Colorado's notorious anti-tax advocate Douglas Bruce reported to jail this morning to begin serving his 180-day sentence for tax evasion. Bruce was best known for being the author of Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR), a bill passed in 1992 that limits state revenue and barrs the legislature from raising taxes without a vote.
In addition to serving 180 days in jail, Bruce has been ordered to pay about $50,000 in restitution and court costs and was sentenced to six years economic probation, in which he'll have to divulge all the details of financial activities to authorities.
"I know I didn't do anything wrong," Bruce told the Denver Post. "If they want to make me sit in a jail cell because they think it serves some type of redeeming purpose, OK."
Like its author, TABOR has also been spending a lot of time in the courts lately over a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that questions the bills constitutionality on the grounds that the bill obstructs the General Assembly's ability to govern. U.S. District Judge William Martinez disagreed with the precedent set up by Rebulican Colorado Attorney General John Suthers' office in defense of TABOR. Suthers' office cited a century-old Oregon decision that ruled that a challenge to a state's right to republican governance -- as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution -- was a decision that is not up to the courts to decide.
Martinez however said that he is interpreting the TABOR lawsuit as a challenge to the outcome of the initiative, not the citizens' initiative ballot process in Colorado.
"If your argument is this case is the same case as (in the Oregon ruling)... I don't see it that way," Martinez is quoted as saying in the Denver Post.
According to lawyers on the case, it could take months before the judge issues a ruling on the state's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Bruce was found guilty by a Denver jury last December on tax-evasion charges. An indictment filed in April 2011, charged Bruce with evasion of taxes, filing a false tax return, attempting to influence a public servant, and failure to file return or pay tax. Bruce has said that he intends to appeal his conviction and that the attacks against him have been politically motivated. The former lawmaker used his own an anti-tax group, "Active Citizens Together," to disguise his income. From 2005 through 2007, prosecutors believe Bruce funneled his salary as El Paso County commissioner into the group.