Keep On Truckin'

When Scott Bundgaard was 18, he was convicted of a felony in connection with stolen goods. The felony was expunged, and at that point Scott Bundgaard was at a crossroads.

With his background as a salesman at The Gap, should he venture into the world of retail fashion?

Or should he become a politician?
Unfortunately for all of us, Scott Bundgaard chose politics, with a side career as a stockbroker.

I don't know how Bundgaard has fared in the world of finance. I do know his political career, which began in the House of Representatives when he was 26, is checkered with poor decisions. Some famous highlights: Last session, as a senator, the Glendale Republican sponsored stadium legislation that failed, but would have benefited his close pal Jason Rose--and had nothing to do with Bundgaard's district. Bundgaard once sponsored a death-penalty bill for drug dealers. He supported a silly bill allowing use of the federally banned pollutant Freon in Arizona.

As always, there's more.
And the Arizona Attorney General's Office had better listen up.

In this space several months ago, I told you about how Bundgaard meddled with state regulators who were trying to clean up an illegal dump owned by Walter Lorimor in Peoria ("Scott Free," March 11).

Walter Lorimor is the kind of guy who watches Sam Steiger on television. He invokes Waco and Ruby Ridge as examples of Big Government Gone Mad.

Unlike Bundgaard, Lorimor has not been convicted of a felony, but in 1992, in a successful effort to avoid criminal prosecution, Lorimor's company, Rainbow Enterprises, pleaded guilty to "criminally negligent discharge into the waters of the state" in connection with an illegal dump in Deer Valley.

Next, Lorimor got in trouble in Peoria. His "sand and gravel mine" at 7575 West Patrick Lane had been singled out by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the City of Peoria as an illegal dump that threatened public health. Neighbors were also upset--the operation was noisy and dusty.

Bundgaard burst onto the scene last year, pretending to come to Lorimor's aid.

He called meetings at the governor's office and generally bullied DEQ into leaving Lorimor alone until he could create what he called a "win-win" for Lorimor and the neighbors.

Bundgaard didn't give a damn about Lorimor and the neighbors.
He meddled with DEQ to enable his friend, a real estate investor named David Crantz, to purchase Lorimor's 77 acres for $1.3 million--a fire-sale price.

And then the senator began micromanaging the Crantz property, although Bundgaard swears he's never benefited financially in any way from the Crantz-Lorimor deal.

The sale of property was completed in February, but David Crantz and Walter Lorimor had a disagreement over when, exactly, Lorimor was to get off the property. Lorimor said the deadline was July 1. Crantz said the deadline expired 60 days after the sale was completed, by May.

Crantz had told Lorimor he could no longer dump on his land. He told Lorimor to leave. However, Lorimor, stubborn fellow that he is, refused to remove his equipment, his office trailer, his secretary, his trucks and his front-end loader from Crantz's land.

Crantz hoped to put a housing development on the land, so, among other things, he needed to fill up the huge holes gouged out by Lorimor's sand and gravel mining.

On June 3, Bundgaard came to the rescue. As a matter of fact, he acted like he was Crantz's agent.

En route to a west-side grocery store, Bundgaard says he spied a big pile of dirt on a construction site that would help fill up those holes on the Crantz property. He admits he arranged with 4-J Excavating to dump the dirt on Crantz's land. But he says he did this just as a "constituent service."

The problem: When the 4-J trucks arrived at the Crantz land, Lorimor's secretary refused to allow the trucks on the property.

When Lorimor's secretary refused access to the 4-J entourage, the supervisor phoned Bundgaard.

Bundgaard rushed to the property and personally ordered that the materials be dumped.

But, in doing so, the senator also might have violated Peoria ordinances.
Both Lorimor's secretary and the 4-J supervisor say the 4-J trucks contained dirt, asphalt and concrete.

Peoria laws prohibit the dumping of asphalt and concrete within city limits.
If the trucks contained such materials, Bundgaard would have been involved in the same illegal activity that Lorimor had gotten in trouble for.

Of course, Bundgaard says the trucks contained only dirt, which is perfectly legal to use as fill.

But why did he get involved in the whole mess in the first place?
Constituent services, says Bundgaard.

Bundgaard acted like an employee or agent for David Crantz again a few days later. This event is more troubling, because it suggests Bundgaard may have wanted to make some money off of Crantz.

Naturally, Bundgaard denies this.
Here's what happened: On June 8, Crantz decided that since Lorimor's equipment was still on his land, Crantz owned it.

Crantz ordered several dump trucks and a front-end loader towed off in the dead of the night.

Then, Richard Aldersley, an appraiser for Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers, says he got a very peculiar telephone call.

It was from Bundgaard.
"He said he had some trucks that he wanted to sell," says Aldersley. "And that he was going to sell them at an upcoming auction. . . . He asked me to go and appraise them. As soon as I saw them, I saw they were Rainbow Enterprise trucks. . . . I did do the appraisal, I checked the machines out and evaluated them and took photographs of them."

I call Bundgaard on his car phone.
I ask if he called Ritchie Brothers to have the trucks appraised.
He waffles and weasels and has no straight answer.
"I think that's something David Crantz had to do," he says.
But did you call Ritchie Brothers?

"I've spoken with them, but I did not call them to solicit anything," he says.

Okay, but did you ask Ritchie to appraise the trucks?
"You know, I can't even tell you about the phone call," he says. "I don't know. I have no knowledge of the equipment. I have no knowledge of anything except that Walter [Lorimor] said he was doing something with Ritchie Brothers in the end of May, liquidating his equipment, and that's the first I ever heard of Ritchie Brothers."

Right. But did you call Ritchie Brothers and ask them to appraise the trucks, which had been taken to a towing company lot?

"Okay. The lot that you are talking about is Roadrunner Towing. Right. Well, I did not call him and solicit that, no. I think that's something that David Crantz or somebody I don't know, somebody did . . . just so you know, I am not benefiting from this one iota."

So is Ritchie Brothers' appraiser lying?
"Like I said, I talked to him but I don't recall asking him to do anything specifically."

He was under the impression you were the owner of the trucks.
"Well, everybody is under the impression that I'm somehow connected with any of this stuff, and I'm not. And I told you and I've told Walter's attorneys that I referred him to. Everyone knows that I'm not."

Why did you call Ritchie Brothers?
"I told you, I'm not familiar of whether I--I have a note on my desk and all that--the point being that I talked to them, but whether I solicited anything I don't know."

Why did you call Ritchie Brothers?
"Well, you're assuming that I called Ritchie Brothers . . . and I don't think that I have."

So you did not call Ritchie Brothers?
"Right. I told you. I don't know. I mean, a lot has happened with this property, and I have not had a whole lot to do with the outcome."

Can I get a straight answer? Aldersley remembers you telephoning him.
"Well of course he remembers. I remember him talking to me, he said something to me about, uh, 'Hey I know this guy Walter in Rainbow,' and all this other kind of stuff, and I'm like, 'Okay, whatever.'"

I tell Bundgaard that his involvement in the trucks doesn't look good. It makes it appear that he has a financial interest resulting from a deal that occurred because he meddled with DEQ.

"I can honestly tell you I am not making a thing off this," responds Bundgaard. ". . . it looks like I am benefiting in some way, but I'm not. I'm not, no way no how."

Footnote: Crantz never got to sell Lorimor's confiscated trucks. Lorimor sued Crantz in Superior Court, and a judge ordered Crantz to return the vehicles.

Nevertheless, the ethically challenged Bundgaard's involvement in the entire Lorimor-Crantz deal raises serious questions about whether the senator is fit to remain in office.

Attorney General Janet Napolitano must conduct a swift and immediate investigation to determine the answers to the following troubling questions:

* Did Bundgaard violate the law by abusing his power as an elected official to improperly influence a state agency in order to benefit a friend?

* Did Bundgaard violate Peoria city statutes by ordering an illegal dumping of asphalt and concrete?

* Did Bundgaard strike a deal with Crantz to somehow benefit financially from the sale of Lorimor's confiscated trucks?

Bundgaard has already had one felony expunged.
Is another offense going to be added to his resume?

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Terry Greene Sterling