Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bruce Censure Approved

The House took up the Bruce censure resolution at about 9:20 am today.

The resolution says Bruce "acted inappropriately" and that he "failed to uphold the honor and dignity of the House of Representatives." It also says Bruce "failed to acknowledge any wrongdoing or accept responsibility for his wrongdoing" in kicking Rocky Mountain News photographer Javier Manzano.

Co-sponsor Paul Weissman explained what a censure means. "He helped himself to the edge. He can choose to be like Wiley Coyote and flop off or he can choose to walk himself back," said Rep. Paul Weissman, D-Louisville, a co-sponsor of the resolution. "There was some discussion, frankly, about expelling Rep. Bruce. We were short of that, but it was pretty close."

GOP co-sponsor Steve King of Grand Junction was blunt in his statement in support of the resolution. "We need to lead by example," said King. "Violence cannot be tolerated in this house."

Bruce responded by comparing himself to the lead character in the 1930s movie, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," in which a politician punches reporters.

"He prevails only by collapsing during a filibuster defending his honor," said Bruce. "I'm not going to collapse here and I'm not going to filibuster, but I have given each member seven pages of reasons why this resolution itself is an overreaction to a nudge of an unruly photographer who twice broke his promise to me."

Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, dismissed Bruce's comparison.

"You're not Jimmy Stewart," said White. "This is not a 1939 movie. This is today. Your actions were wrong."

Bruce denied he overreacted to the "photographer's betrayal of his promise."

"I heard here for many years that the most important thing is for people to keep their word," Bruce said. "I made a mistake. I trusted a journalist and I won't do that again."

Bruce criticized the photographer for failing to abide by journalistic ethics. "When my eyes were closed, he broke his promise," said Bruce. "He caused the disruption of the prayer, not me."

He also said his assault on Manzano was no different than the ordinary, friendly physical contact between legislators that happens frequently at the Capitol.

Rep. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, expressed opposition to the resolution but denied he was defending Bruce's actions. "I would caution us in rushing down this road of censure as opposed to a rebuke or something less than that because I think we are setting a low bar for this action that has never been taken in this body previous to this time," said Lundberg.

The resolution was approved by the House, 62-1.

The House later rejected a motion by Bruce to have his version of events included in the permanent record of the chamber. Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, told the chamber that he was concerned that Bruce's narrative was not accurate.

Bruce is the first member of the Colorado General Assembly censured by a chamber of the legislature in the history of the state.