Senator Scott Bundgaard Plays Patty-Cake with Jason Rose, and Russell Pearce Goes KGB on Pro-Immigration Activists
Well, at least you can say Republican state Senate Majority Leader Scott Bundgaard knows how to take a punch. From his girlfriend.
Perusing the photos of Bundgaard's injuries, sent out by the senator's sleazy publicist pal Jason Rose, it looks like the Peoria GOPer forgot to keep his right up.
As everyone under the sun of Satan is now aware, Bundgaard, 43, was caught by the Phoenix cops fighting on the side of State Route 51 with lady companion Aubry Ballard, former director of StreetlightPHX, a nonprofit that fights child sex trafficking.
Ballard, 34, was scraped, bruised, and sustained other injuries, but at least she avoided a black eye. The chick can punch, apparently.
Bundgaard claimed that Ballard was jealous that he danced with some babe at a "Dancing with the Stars" charity event. Ballard has told the press that there was more involved, but she hasn't been specific. The two have since split.
I couldn't care less about the fight itself — but the story went viral, with everybody from the Daily Mail in London to CNN to TMZ.com doing a version of it.
The slime factor entered when, according to the cops, Bundgaard pulled the "immunity" card. That's the line in the Arizona State Constitution that says, "Members of the Legislature shall be privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace."
Fighting with your significant other on the side of the road late at night? Sounds like a "breach of the peace" to me.
But Phoenix police cut Bundgaard some legislative slack and let him go.
Membership has its privileges. Heck, even Governor Jan Brewer got out of a DUI charge in 1988 after failing four field-sobriety tests while reeking of booze. Why? Because she was in the freaking Legislature at the time.
Not being a member of the state's lawmaking body means that you get arrested and booked, as Ballard did after her tussle with Bundgaard. She says she spent 17 hours in custody at Sheriff Joe Arpaio's notorious Fourth Avenue Jail.
As anyone who's had to go through Fourth Avenue will tell you, it ain't no ride on a Ferris wheel.
In a whiny, defensive press release sent out by Bundgaard's buddy Rose, Bundgaard stroked himself for using the "Dancing" event to raise cash for the National Kidney Foundation of Arizona.
He also denied that the altercation with Ballard was a "domestic violence" incident, though that's how police described it. And he kvetched that he never invoked legislative immunity, though that's exactly what the police said he did.
So the cops are liars, eh? That is, only when they're making allegations in Bundgaard's direction.
And he boo-hoo'd that the Arizona Republic didn't call him before running its story.
Sheesh, you need a clothespin for that diaper, Senator?
BTW, I called Bundgaard and told him I wanted to ask him a few questions. He said he was busy and would get back to me. He didn't. I called him back and left a message. Naturally, we didn't connect.
On the Senate floor recently, Bundgaard tearfully apologized to his fellow members, declared that he is not "above the law," and said he never suggested as much. He said the Senate should "revisit" the legislative-immunity portion of the Arizona Constitution, calling it "antiquated" and "archaic."
He said, "Most of us would agree that it has no place in public service and should be eliminated."
I'll give him points for that, though Bundgaard and everyone, really, should think twice before enlisting the services of Jason Rose. The bitchy press release was clearly a dumb move and drew more flak for Rose's client, not less.
Plus, having Rose as one of your BFFs signals that his brand of right-wing scumbaggery is a-okay with you.
And Bundgaard and Rose go way back. They reportedly have vacationed together in the past, and Rose recently touted Bundgaard's appearance at a new restaurant Rose is pimping, the Arrogant Butcher.
Alas, Rose doesn't have the best of luck with restaurants. Anyone recall Pink Taco? Rose got his good friend and sometime client Joe Arpaio to plug that one at a press conference for the establishment in 2006. Arpaio claimed ignorance of the anatomical reference.
In any case, the Scottsdale restaurant closed in 2009. Rose's politically themed pub, Nixon's, also is kaput.
The weaselly Rose received some assistance from his pal Bundgaard in 1999, when Bundgaard pushed a bill that would have helped Rose client Steve Ellman build a hockey-themed entertainment park in Scottsdale.
It never happened, and Glendale got the hockey arena instead.
At the time, Bundgaard argued the favor was copacetic because Rose wasn't a lobbyist. Rather he was a PR hack who was his homeboy. He called one citizen who criticized the bill an "irrational imbecile" in a letter. Interestingly, the project had zip to do with his district.
The Rose-Bundgaard bromance also is probably reinforced by Bundgaard's own slithery ways, explored at length over the years by New Times scribes.
Managing editor Amy Silverman wrote up Bundgaard's criminal record in a 1994 story ("Pols to the Wall," October 27).
As Bundgaard slouched toward a state House seat in Legislative District 19, Silverman pointed out that Bundgaard had caught two years' probation "for his part in a scheme to steal [car stereos] from a Smitty's he worked at in 1986."
His record since has been expunged and his voting rights restored. Bundgaard was reportedly 18 at the time. He ended up scoring endorsements from Arpaio, then-Senate Majority Whip Jan Brewer, and Governor Fife Symington III, who would later be indicted on several counts of corruption and ultimately forced from office.
In 1999, former New Times reporter Terry Greene Sterling dug into Bundgaard's machinations on behalf of one of the Valley's biggest polluters, Walter Lorimor. Bundgaard helped Lorimor with state regulators, getting his fines reduced, finding a buyer for one of Lorimor's dumps ("Scott Free," March 11, and "Keep on Truckin'," July 8).
Hey, anything for a constituent.
Bundgaard presents himself as a big Christian-family-values kind of guy, but as the Good Book says, "By their fruits, ye shall know them." And Bundgaard and Rose's fruit is rancid, and straight from the pail.
When I got a call telling me that Phoenix human rights activist Sal Reza had been arrested at the state Senate building as he tried to meet with Senator Steve Gallardo, my first thought was, Jeez, if he has to spend any more time getting booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail, Sheriff Joe should name a wing of the MCSO's vast incarceration complex after him.
Reza still is fighting a charge from his arrest in an act of civil disobedience on July 29, when he and scores of others were collared in an explosion of anti-Senate Bill 1070 sentiment that rocked Phoenix.
That arrest, of course, Reza wanted. It was in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, César Chávez, and other exponents of non-violent civil disobedience.
Of course, as I joked recently with Reza, he has some catching up to do if he wants to be in the King-Gandhi-Chávez league.
But like his heroes, he's not only been arrested for civil disobedience, he's been pinched in retaliation for being a leader in the civil rights struggle here in Phoenix.
Shortly after his July 29 arrest, Reza was collared again — this time wrongly — by a pack of Arpaio's thugs.
The sheriff's underlings claimed Reza had defied a court order. The charge was bogus — so bogus that both the judge and the prosecutor in the case agreed there was no probable cause for the arrest.
Then-Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley dropped the charge.
As I've been covering closely in my Feathered Bastard blog, Reza was arrested on February 24, along with another activist, Anayense Garza, from his group Puente.
Unbeknownst to Reza, state Senate President Russell Pearce had banned him from the Senate. The ban was retribution for Reza's presence on February 22, as he and hundreds of other activists watched a marathon Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on TV in an overflow room.
The activists were not allowed into the smaller room where the hearing actually was held. Only the press and those signed up to speak against the catalog of anti-immigrant bills on tap were allowed in.
Apparently, Pearce was ticked that there were so many demonstrators and activists in his building. Both Pearce and security also were miffed that the folks in the overflow room were applauding whenever one of the senators or the speakers said something they liked.
At one point, Reza was asked to order the observers to be silent. Reza told security that it wasn't his place to tell folks whether to clap or not.
People say the applause was audible in the hearing room, which was down the hall. I was there, covering the proceedings. I didn't hear any of the clapping.
According to the incomplete report issued by the Capitol Police on the arrests, Pearce gave explicit instructions to the officers from the Arizona Department of Public Safety concerning the activists.
DPS Sergeant Jeff Trapp wrote the following in a supplement to the report:
"At approximately 2230hrs, Senate President Russell Pearce approached me and requested that the offenders from the overflow seating be identified, photographed, and that the information be posted at the Senate guard desks and that these offenders be denied further entrance into the Senate."
Trapp did this, using photos plucked from the Internet.
So, when Reza and Garza showed up, Reza was told of the ban. He wanted to see something in writing. Sounds reasonable. I mean, who do you know who's ever been banned from a public building? But Reza was given nothing of the kind.
Trapp and another DPS officer, J. Gentry Burton, eventually took Reza into custody. Reza said Burton slammed him against a wall of the lobby. Garza was filming the action, and she ended up getting nabbed as well, though she had not been banned.
Trapp and Burton allege Garza assaulted Trapp. Both DPS guys look to be more than six feet tall. Garza's small, probably a little over five feet. Garza was bruised during the altercation, during which Trapp dragged her by her hair.
Now, Garza faces two felony counts of resisting arrest and assault on an officer, as well as a misdemeanor count of trespassing. Reza has one trespassing count to worry about.
Nice little police state Pearce has turned the Senate into, eh? But what he doesn't get — what he will never get — is that Reza and other activists like him cannot be crushed.
Reza is in it for the long haul. He and the other members of Puente, including Garza, may seem small, powerless, easy to push around . . .
But, then, I'm sure that's what the dictators of the Middle East, like Hosni Mubarak in Egypt or Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, have thought of demonstrators and opponents heretofore.
What Pearce cannot foresee, but what Reza and his people can, is change.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.