Ex-Ariz. Lawmaker Files $10M Claim Against Phoenix

July 3, 2012

A former state senator who resigned in January over a domestic violence incident involving his ex-girlfriend filed a $10 million notice of claim Friday against Phoenix police and city officials.

Scott Bundgaard, 44, stepped down before he had to testify to a Senate Ethics Committee deciding whether he should be disciplined over the February 2011 incident.

Police said Bundgaard wasn’t arrested because he claimed legislative immunity, which bars arrests of lawmakers for most charges while the Legislature is in session.

In the 29-page claim, a lawyer for Bundgaard said the Peoria Republican didn’t invoke legislative immunity.

Bundgaard’s claim also accuses the Police Department of altering reports; improperly and intentionally reporting he “was the perpetrator, rather than the victim, of domestic violence”; and improperly providing information for use in the Senate Ethics Committee proceedings.

The claim, which is the precursor to a lawsuit, alleges that Bundgaard was defamed and had his civil rights violated, and that police were negligent in their actions.

City officials said Friday that they received copies of the claim and they declined to comment until they could review it.

Bundgaard’s claim seeks money for direct and consequential damages, special damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. It states that since the Senate hearings, “he has lost his Senate seat, his salary and benefits including health insurance, and his political career.”

His resignation on Jan. 6 ended an ethics case that could have resulted in a recommendation that the full Senate issue a letter of reprimand, formally censure Bundgaard or expel him.

Bundgaard’s ex-girlfriend, Aubry Ballard, testified that he struck her twice, threw her cellphone out a window while they drove, then stopped on a Phoenix freeway and pulled her out of his car.

Ballard said she reacted to being hit in the chest by slapping Bundgaard in the face. Both people had cuts and bruises after the confrontation, she said.

Ballard testified that the confrontation followed an argument over Bundgaard’s decision to take dancing lessons while failing to take time to get counseling for a previous physical altercation.

The claim filed Friday disputed Ballard’s version of events, saying she was intoxicated and making confrontational statements.

Phoenix police officers testified that Bundgaard reeked of alcohol, demanded to be released from handcuffs after they detained him, and refused field sobriety tests. A sergeant testified that he denied drinking – a statement the sergeant said he didn’t believe.

Bundgaard would have been arrested on possible domestic violence allegations and suspicion of DUI if not for the immunity law, the sergeant and an officer testified.

Bundgaard denied assaulting Ballard. He later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor endangerment charge under a plea agreement. It included dismissal of an assault charge and a requirement that he get domestic violence counseling.

The incident prompted fellow Senate Republicans to replace Bundgaard as Senate majority leader in March.

Bundgaard was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1994 and the state Senate in 1996, serving there for six years before staging an unsuccessful run for the U.S. House in 2002. He returned to the state Senate in 2011.

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