Author of TABOR cited for trespassing
August 17, 2009
COLORADO SPRINGS (AP) – Doug Bruce, the author of Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment, said city officials violated his First Amendment rights when they arrested him outside a store while he collected signatures for a ballot measure.
Colorado Springs police say the 59-year-old anti-tax crusader and another man, Douglas Stinehagen, were arrested at a Costco store Saturday on a misdemeanor trespassing charge.
A manager at the Costco store told The Gazette newspaper that Bruce was “making a scene” and that shoppers complained. Bruce said the proposal he was collecting signatures for would eliminate “stormwater and secret utility taxes.”
Bruce denounced Colorado Springs officials during a news conference Monday at City Hall and said he shouldn’t have been arrested.
“We were arrested because the city doesn’t want our petition to get on the ballot because it would impact city revenue and they have apparently created a new rule where the First Amendment doesn’t apply if you are petitioning to do something the government doesn’t want,” he said
Lt. David Whitlock, a police spokesman, said officers went to the store because people there wanted Bruce and Stinehagen to leave.
“They were asked to leave and didn’t, and were issued a citation,” Whitlock said.
The city said the deadline to submit signatures for a ballot proposal has passed, but Bruce disagrees.
In 1992, Bruce helped author TABOR, a constitutional amendment that limits state spending based on inflation and population growth. It also mandates that voters approve any proposed state tax increases.
Bruce is also a former state representative. He was censured by the Colorado House last year for kicking a newspaper photographer who took a picture of him during the session-opening prayer.