Arizona Senate Republicans oust Bundgaard as leader - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Arizona Senate Republicans oust Bundgaard as leader

Gilbert's Biggs steps in

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Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 1:02 pm | Updated: 12:11 pm, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Senate Republicans on Tuesday ousted Scott Bundgaard as their majority leader. He will be replaced by Sen. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert.

The closed-door vote came after the Peoria Republican acknowledged that his highly publicized fight with his now-former girlfriend had become a distraction from the day-to-day business of the Senate.

“I serve at the pleasure of my caucus,’’ Bundgaard said. “They’ve made a decision to support someone else for majority leader.’’

Bundgaard said he provided the invitation for the other 20 Senate Republicans to remove him.

“We’re in a very critical part of the session right now in producing a budget,’’ he said. “They don’t need the distraction of my personal problems.’’

He also said that relieving him of the duties of being the No. 2 person in the Senate will give him more time to deal with the ongoing police investigation about that incident three weeks ago in the median of a Phoenix freeway.

Police said they had planned to arrest both on domestic violence charges. But officers said Bundgaard invoked a constitutional provision that has been interpreted to preclude the arrest of state lawmakers while the Legislature is in session.

His girlfriend went to jail overnight.

He was released. But the report taken at the time recommended that charges be brought against him when the legislative session ends.

Bundgaard on Tuesday restated his position that he was the victim in the incident and was simply defending himself. Phoenix police have not yet released the supplemental investigative reports.

“I’m distracted by the situation,’’ he said. Bundgaard also said he has “no hard feelings’’ for the members of the caucus who voted to strip him of his post.

The ongoing police investigation is only part of what remains in front of Bundgaard.

Senate Democrats filed a complaint with the Ethics Committee, citing that initial police report, saying that there appears to be enough evidence to show that Bundgaard broke laws on domestic violence. Legal violations are among the grounds for investigation.

But Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, who chairs the Ethics Committee, said he will move on Thursday to dismiss the complaint, without prejudice.

“The complaint is based on a violation of state law,’’ he said.

“But Sen. Bundgaard has not been charged,’’ Gould continued. And even if and when that happens, he said, there has been no court finding of guilt.

“So you can’t really say that he’s violated state law,’’ Gould said. He said, though, that if Bundgaard ends up convicted of some crime the complaint can be refiled at that time.

Gould acknowledged the complaint also alleges what would amount to conduct unbecoming of a senator.

“It’s pretty vague, though,’’ Gould said.

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