Bundgaard voted out as Senate majority leader

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by Catherine Holland and The Associated Press

azfamily.com

Posted on March 15, 2011 at 1:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 16 at 6:03 AM

PHOENIX – A week after Senate Democrats called on embattled Majority Leader Scott Bundgaard to resign, a closed Republican caucus voted him out of the position on Tuesday.

Bundgaard (R, Legislative District 4) came out of the meeting and said his colleagues voted to oust him as majority leader.

This all goes back to an alleged domestic violence incident involving Bundgaard and his now ex-girlfriend on Feb. 25.

According to Phoenix police, Bundgaard and Aubry Ballard argued while driving home after the Dancing with the Stars Arizona charity event, but they offered conflicting accounts on what else happened that night on State Route 51. Investigators said both Bundgaard and Ballard, who had been together for about seven months, had marks indicative of a physical altercation.

While Bundgaard, who enjoys legislative immunity while the Legislature is in session, did not go to jail, Ballard spent 17 hours behind bars.

“He pulled the ‘I’m a state senator’ right in the process of getting arrested,” Ballard said a few days after the incident.

While he did tell officers that he is a lawmaker, Bundgaard said he never asked for the immunity that is set out in the Arizona state Constitution. The only exceptions to legislative immunity from arrest during the session are treason, felony, and breach of the peace.

“I’m not immune from prosecution for any of this and the police and I had that discussion,” Bundgaard said.

When Senate Democrats called for his resignation, Bundgaard issued a statement in which he declined.

"I respectfully decline the request of Senate Democrats,” he wrote on March 7. “Last week I apologized for being involved in an incident that generated criticism of our Capitol institutions and me. I reiterate my apology again today. I will clear my name as this issue works through the process, and as more information comes out. And I will do so in the face of the politics that have now been injected into this issue."

Tuesday’s Republican caucus was the second in the less than three weeks since the incident.

After the first closed-door caucus last week, several senators said they would wait a week before deciding whether Bundgaard should retain his position as Senate majority leader.

In the wake of that meeting, Sen. Ron Gould of Lake Havasu City said Bundgaard's behavior was unbecoming as a senator, and Sen. Rich Crandall of Mesa said Bundgaard should step down as majority leader so he isn't distracted by his personal situation.

Bundgaard's case is slated to go before the Senate ethics committee Thursday.

In the meantime, Phoenix police said they will be forwarding the case to the city attorney to decide whether to pursue charges.

Republican Sen. Andy Biggs of Gilbert is the Arizona Senate's new majority leader.

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