DENVER – The state House voted Thursday to censure a lawmaker who kicked a newspaper photographer taking his picture — and refused to apologize.
The resolution, passed 62-1, was the first censure in the history of the Legislature. It says Rep. Douglas Bruce "failed to uphold the honor and dignity of the House of Representatives and reflects poorly on the state."
Bruce, a Colorado Springs Republican, kicked Rocky Mountain News photographer Javier Manzano for snapping his photo during the traditional session-opening prayer on Jan. 14. Bruce was sworn in as a midterm replacement hours later.
Bruce was standing during the prayer when Manzano knelt down, along with other photographers and videographers, and snapped his photo. Bruce brought the sole of his shoe down hard on Manzano's bent knee and said, "Don't do that again."
Bruce has described his action as a "nudge" and not a kick.
As the censure was read, Bruce stood in front of his colleagues toward the side of the chamber, his lips pursed and his arms folded.
He then delivered a speech, again blaming the photographer and comparing himself to Jimmy Stewart in the 1939 movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Stewart played a freshman congressman who punches out a photographer and becomes a hero after launching a filibuster and collapsing on the floor.
Republican Rep. Al White responded: "Representative Bruce, you're not Jimmy Stewart, this is not a 1939 movie. This is today. Your actions were wrong."
The lone vote against censure was by Rep. Kevin Lundberg, a Republican who said Bruce deserved to be punished but that censure was too strong.
Bruce, who was not permitted to vote, had a seven-page letter distributed to his colleagues explaining his refusal to apologize and calling Democratic House Speaker Andrew Romanoff his "executioner."
Noting that the censure was the Legislature's first, Bruce said, "Does this single tapping justly rise to those historic levels? No." He said an appropriate response would have ranged from no action to private warning from Romanoff.
The House voted 56-7 not to have Bruce's letter reprinted in the official record, saying it didn't accurately represent what happened.