A Maricopa County Superior Court judge today will consider whether to put a stop to the State Senate ethics hearing over the fight Senator Scott Bundgaard got into with his former gal-pal on the side of a Valley highway last year.
Bundgaard's attorneys have requested that Judge John Buttrick issue a temporary restraining order that would prevent the committee from holding a hearing scheduled for Thursday -- according to the Bundgaard camp, members of the committee have a bias against the senator, and the committee failed to meet a deadline to act on the complaint filed by Bundgaard's Democratic Senate colleague Steve Gallardo.
Bundgaard pleaded no contest in August to a misdemeanor endangerment charge stemming from the February scuffle on the side of State Route 51 with his now ex-girlfriend Aubry Ballard
Initially, Bundgaard was charged with one count each of reckless assault and endangerment for the freeway fracas that resulted in a night in the slammer for Ballard and a shiner for Bundgaard.
Bundgaard faced up to 10 months in jail and $3,250 in fines if convicted of the aforementioned charges. However, thanks to the plea deal, the charges were dismissed, and Bundgaard will avoid any jail time if he completes a diversion program within the next 12 months. If he fails to complete the program, he faces five days in jail and 36 months of probation.
With each side telling a different story, the details of the February 15, brouhaha still are unclear. Bundgaard claims Ballard attacked him in a jealous rage as the two drove home from a charity event, during which Bundgaard competed in a dance competition with another woman.
He claims she started punching him and throwing his clothes out the window as the two were driving on State Route 51. When he stopped to retrieve the clothes, he tried to remove Ballard from the car, dragging her along the side of the highway, causing cuts and scrapes to her legs.
Bundgaard also claims Ballard pulled a gun on him, a claim Ballard says -- and most observers believe -- is BS.
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The yarn about the gun, Senate sources told New Times at the time, was the breaking point for many Senate Republicans, who booted Bundgaard from his position as Senate majority leader shortly after the incident.
Bundgaard was not charged the night of the fight because, according to Phoenix police, he invoked legislative immunity -- a claim he disputes. Ballard, on the other hand, was taken into custody at the scene and spent a night in jail.
The ethics hearing could result in Bundgaard's getting the boot from the Legislature.
Judge Buttrick is expected to make his ruling today. Check back for updates.