Ariz. Senate leader avoids arrest after fight with girlfriend

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by Alicia E. Barrón

azfamily.com

Posted on February 26, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 7:55 AM

PHOENIX – Arizona Senate majority leader Scott Bundgaard (R-LD4) was involved in an apparent scuffle with his girlfriend, Aubry Ballard, Friday night as the couple returned from a local charity  event.

Phoenix police say they responded to a call of a man pulling a woman out of a car next to the median northbound on State Route 51 south of Cactus Road on Friday just after 11 p.m.

When officers responded to the scene they determined the individuals involved were Sen. Scott Bundgaard, 43, and his girlfriend Aubrey Michelle Ballard, 34.

Officers who arrived on the scene found that both Bundgaard and Ballard had marks suggesting a physical altercation, according to Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson. 

Bundgaard was not detained because he has immunity from arrest while the legislature is in session, however prosecutors will review the case and could file charges at a later date, Thompson said.

Ballard was booked into a Maricopa County jail. She faces one count of domestic violence assault

"She proceeded to throw my clothes and other things out of my car on a freeway as I took her home," Bundgaard said in a statement Saturday.

The senator said he tried to stop his girlfriend from punching him, which resulted in marks on her knees.  Bundgaard said he pulled Ballard out of the car, but denied ever hitting or pushing her.

"I have never inappropriately touched a woman and never would. There was no domestic violence," Bundgaard said.

Ballard described the incident as "the absolute worst night of my life" in her own statement released Saturday.  "To go from putting on a beautiful dress for a great date to a fundraiser to ending up on the side of a freeway? I don't have another tear left to cry," she said. "I'm still trying to get my mind around a few things: Scott's actions, the 17 hours I spent in jail awaiting processing, my bruises, scrapes and soreness and his statements to the media."

In a joint statement Sunday, Bundgaard and Ballard said they were "tired and embarrassed" because of the incident. "We want to jointly apologize for allowing a private matter to interrupt the public -- and especially for taking up the valuable time of law enforcement. The police officers who responded deserve thanks for their sensitivity and compassion."

The couple's statement went on to say that they were breaking up and appealed for privacy.

Article IV, Part 2, Section 5 of the Arizona constitution states that legislators are immune from arrest "in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace" and allows them immunity from civil process while the legislator is in session.

Phoenix police said they will submit the case to the city attorney's office for review, Thompson said.

In his statement, Bundgaard said he will not hide behind his privilege. "I waive any and all 'immunity.' If I did something wrong, charge me," he said.

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