Bruce claims too much in expenses, says he’ll return the money
February 21, 2008
DENVER – State Rep. Douglas Bruce made a point of not taking office until five days after the Legislature started, but he claimed an expense reimbursement for those days anyway.The Colorado Springs Republican said Wednesday it was a clerical error and he’ll return the money, about $750.Bruce, who said he donates his legislative salary and expense reimbursements to charity, said he wasn’t trying to cheat and hasn’t cashed the check.”I just don’t want anybody to come up with some goofy idea that I’m defrauding the system,” he said.Bruce said legislative staffers gave him a sheet that said the maximum number of days he could claim was 23. He said he signed it without double-checking the numbers. The Legislative Council, which handles payments to lawmakers, took responsibility for the overpayment.Bruce was a midterm appointee, chosen by El Paso County Republicans to fill an unexpired term. He took office five days after the session started so that the term he was filling was more than half over and wouldn’t count again the maximum number of terms he can serve.Bruce also made headlines when the House censured him for kicking a newspaper photographer, and when GOP leaders kicked him off a committee for refusing to back a resolution honoring veterans.The state pays a per diem expense of $150 a day for legislators who live outside the Denver area and $45 a day for those who live in metro Denver.Bruce was one of 73 lawmakers who claimed the per diem for days the Legislature was not in session in January. The reimbursement system does not require lawmakers to detail daily costs or prove that they worked on days they were not in session.It wasn’t immediately clear if any other lawmakers planned to return any of their expenses.