Senator Scott Bundgaard Involved in Domestic Violence
Feb. 27, 2011
Scott Bundgaard, the majority leader of the Arizona state Senate, was briefly taken into custody on suspicion of domestic violence Friday but was released because he was immune to arrest under rules of the Arizona state Constitution.
Aubry Ballard, who Phoenix police said is his girlfriend and was involved in a fight with Bundgaard, was arrested on one count of assault.
Bundgaard, R-Peoria, and Ballard had minor injuries, said Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson.
Thompson said police responded to a call at about 11:20 p.m. Friday of a man pulling a woman out of a gold vehicle, which was stopped northbound next to the median on Arizona 51, just south of Cactus Road.
When officers arrived, they said Bundgaard, 43, and Ballard, 34, his passenger, showed marks of a physical altercation, “which constituted an act of domestic violence,” Thompson said. After being taken into custody, Bundgaard told officers that because he is an Arizona state senator, he is immune from arrest. Thompson said the department confirmed Bundgaard’s statement and he was not arrested.
The case will be submitted to the prosecutor’s office for review. The immunity was not a “trump card,” Thompson said. “The only thing it did was not allow him to be booked into jail.”
In an interview Saturday evening, Bundgaard said he had not been involved in a domestic violence incident Friday and has never been accused of domestic violence.
“It’s not acceptable to assault anyone for any reason,” he said. Bundgaard said he had been dating Ballard about seven months and said she had attacked him.
Bundgaard said he had participated Friday in a National Kidney Foundation of Arizona charity event, Dancing with the Stars Arizona 2011. As he was leaving, he said his girlfriend accused him of inappropriately touching his dance partner.
As he drove Ballard home, he said she started throwing his clothes out of his car on the freeway. He stopped to retrieve the items and then said Ballard “yelled that she was going to take my car and moved into the driver’s seat. I immediately returned to the car and asked her to get out. She refused. I had no choice but to pull her from the driver’s seat which resulted in marks on her knees. I had also had no choice but to stop her from punching me and risking highway safety, all of which resulted in a black eye for me and a busted lip.”
In an interview, Bundgaard called Ballard a “good woman with a good heart. I’m not going to hire a lawyer. The best thing to do is learn from this and forgive this and move on.”
Ballard, whose LinkedIn profile lists her as director of operations and sales for a non-profit organization, was booked into a Maricopa County jail on suspicion of one count of assault. She was released late Saturday afternoon and later gave a statement. Ballard said she has been trying to understand what happened. “I’m still trying to get my mind around a few things,” she said. “Scott’s actions, the 17 hours I spent in jail awaiting processing, my bruises, scrapes and soreness and his statements to the media.
“I’m not a public figure. Nor am I someone who wants to see her private life made public. At the same time, I value my reputation. I’ve always been a strong believer in the truth. I have a lot of thinking and praying to do before I decide what to do next.”
In an earlier statement Saturday, Bundgaard said he has “never inappropriately touched a woman and never would. Period,” he stated. “I was not intoxicated. There was no ‘domestic violence.’ Such conduct is offensive to me as it should be to all people. I waive any and all ‘legislative immunity.’ If I did something wrong, charge me. I did not.”
Bundgaard said his friends and family are surprised by the matter. They know “it’s just not my character.” He apologized “to any and all for what has taken place.”
He is sorry that Ballard was hurt. “When I physically removed her (from the car), if she has scrapes on her knees, I’m sorry about that,” he said. “But when you’re being punched in the face and she’s trying to jerk the wheel and exit, that’s a dangerous situation.”
Bundgaard said he was unhappy that the police handcuffed him but said “they did the best they could under the circumstances.”
Thompson said although Bundgaard was not arrested Friday “it does not mean that he will not face those charges.”
Thompson said Article Four, Part 2, Section 6 of the state Constitution allows for immunity for members of the Legislature unless it is a “felony, act of treason or breach of the peace.” The immunity is only allowed during a legislative session or 15 days before it begins.
The alleged incident between Bundgaard and Ballard “did not rise to a felony,” Thompson said. Thompson wasn’t sure of the implication of Bundgaard waiving his immunity. “The only immunity was against him being arrested at that point,” he said.
In 1988, Gov. Jan Brewer, then a state senator, was involved in an alcohol-related car crash.
Department of Public Safety officers, after learning that Brewer was in the legislature, told her that she had immunity from arrest. No charges were filed in the case. Brewer said at the time she had been drinking but was not impaired.
Bundgaard, who serves on the finance, judiciary and rules committees in the Senate, was first elected to the Arizona legislature in 1994 to represent District 19 in the state House.
In that first run for office, the then 26-year-old candidate discussed being placed on two years’ probation in the 1980s for a burglary at a grocery story where he worked.
In an earlier interview with, he said he had been “in a bad judgment situation.”
His record was expunged after he completed two years of probation, and his rights to vote and run for office were restored.
Bundgaard specialized in tax, finance and business-related bills during his earlier years at the Legislature. After one term in the House, he was elected to the Senate in 1996, where he became chairman of the Finance Committee and helped engineer a menu of business and personal income tax cuts. Bundgaard was an architect in 2000 of the bill creating the Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority, which tapped voter-approved funds to build University of Phoenix Stadium and renovate spring-training facilities. He resigned to run for former U.S. Rep. Bob Stump’s seat in 2002, but lost the GOP primary to Rep. Trent Franks, who still holds the seat.