DENVER – A six-person committee made up of Republican and Democratic lawmakers will look into the kicking incident between Doug Bruce and a Rocky Mountain News photographer, hours before Bruce was sworn-in as a Colorado Springs Representative.
The Rocky Mountain News, however, will not file any charges against Bruce.
“The central concern I had when I learned of this was, was our photographer hurt,” Rocky Mountain News Editor, President and Publisher John Temple told NEWSCHANNEL 13. “I’m not one of those people who believe the best way to resolve all conflicts or all disagreements is through legal means.”
“He (the Rocky photographer) should not have done what he did, he should apologize to me and to the house,” Bruce said Monday at the Capitol. “If he wants to file a battery complaint, I don’t think he did.”
Bruce has held firm in his stance that he did nothing wrong. NEWSCHANNEL 13 reached him by phone at his Capitol office. He said he doesn’t understand how he disrupted order and decorum by tapping someone on the knee when they were snapping pictures during a prayer.
“Should he be prosecuted for this? No, I don’t think so,” says legal analyst Craig Silverman. “But at the same time Douglas Bruce better watch his behavior.”
Temple believes Bruce’s refusal to apologize keeps this story in the news.
“If Mr. Bruce had just apologized, I think the whole thing would have blown over as a mistake by somebody who was under a lot of pressure,” says Temple. “Why do you take a picture of somebody in prayer? Our goal was to capture Mr. Bruce’s full day at the capitol. If you don’t capture both the scrum of attention when he’s looking to be sworn-in and also a moment of quiet reflection, you’re not showing the complete day. There was no intent to be disrespectful…we didn’t follow him into the bathroom.”
Temple and Bruce spoke by phone but could not reach an agreement.
“We had a fairly lengthy conversation which became quite heated,” says Temple. “I felt that he owed our photographer an apology and that he was way over the line and he told me he disagreed.
“We take decorum and order in the chamber very seriously,” says House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D-Denver).
At a Tuesday news conference, Romanoff and House minority leader Mike May (R-Parker) announced a special committee that will look into Bruce’s actions. Since Bruce hadn’t been sworn-in as a Representative yet, the House can’t apply an ethics rule already in place. Instead three House Republicans and three House Democrats will listen to testimony and recommend any punishment that the entire House will then vote on.
â€˜This committee is not empowered to make a decision other than a recommendation,” says Romanoff.
Under the ethics rule for House Representatives, punishments could include a reprimand, censure expulsion. If the committee uses those same guidelines, Bruce himself, could get kicked, out of the legislature.
The committee will start listening to testimony and evidence on Friday. It has until the end of next week to report back to the House.