COLORADO SPRINGS (AP) Supporters and opponents of former state Rep. Douglas Bruce say his conviction on tax-evasion charges Wednesday wont shake the foundation of the anti-tax activists largest political monument.
Bruce is the father of Colorados Taxpayers Bill of Rights, a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1992 that blocks tax increases without a vote of the people and limits government spending.
While the TABOR amendment has plenty of critics, Bruces downfall wont make changing the constitution any easier.
We dont have TABOR because people like Doug Bruce, said El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, who served on the El Paso county commission alongside Bruce. We have TABOR because people dont like taxes.
John Morris, a former head of the Republican Party in El Paso County, thinks Bruces conviction actually could make TABOR stronger because opponents of the tax restrictions cant tie their arguments to Bruces caustic personality.
His removal from politics will remove some of the taint that goes with him, Morris said. Having him out of the picture might make (TABOR) seem not totally crazy.
In more than 20 years of local politics Bruce was famous for making loyal friends and even more loyal enemies.
Bruce was elected to the commission in 2004 and was appointed to an open seat in the state House in 2008.
Those who have crossed swords with Bruce say hes a terrifying debater who has instant recall of facts and a confident righteousness that makes him formidable.
He would go right for the jugular, said former Colorado Springs Democratic state Rep. Mike Merrifield, who debated Bruce on the House floor several times.
Bruce was known for an arrogant belief that he was always right, several politicians who have served alongside him said.
He wasnt known for his ability to compromise, said former county commissioner Jim Bensberg, a Republican who served alongside Bruce.
But Bruces political star had faded considerably in recent years.
His lone year in the Colorado General Assembly is best known for his gaffes. Bruce became the first member of the House to be censured by the body after kicking a Rocky Mountain News photographer during his swearing-in ceremony. Later, he famously described migrant farm workers as illiterate peasants.
Bruce lost his House seat in the 2008 Republican primary. A trio of statewide anti-tax measures supported by Bruce were trounced on the 2010 ballot.
Bruce met his Waterloo in 2011, when he and four supporters ran as the Reform Team in a bid to take over the Colorado Springs City Council. None of the five earned a seat.
Colorado Springs state Sen. John Morse said Bruces conviction proves something critics have been saying for a long time.
People have already understood Douglas Bruce wasnt about good government, Morse said. He was about Douglas Bruce not having to pay taxes himself.