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Last Monday, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors in northwest Arizona was to consider the nomination of Sharon Kay Holmes for the position of GOP district committeewoman. The 68-year-old tea party darling was probably a shoe-in. Earlier this year she had been a delegate to the state Republican convention in Phoenix, one of 20 people sent by the town of Kingman. Unfortunately for Holmes, she didn't make the meeting Monday because she was in jail. The previous Thursday she had been arrested for threatening a repo-man with a gun, and then leading police on a car chase. Welcome to Arizona.  

The nation's political butthole has undergone a series of critical hemorrhoid surgeries in the last year. In November 2011, voters in Mesa recalled blowhard Senator Russell Pearce, author and chief defender of SB 1070. Shortly afterward, in January 2012, Republican Scott Bundgaard, the Senate Majority Leader, resigned his seat rather than face an Ethics Committee hearing for slapping his girlfriend around on a Phoenix freeway. Another venomous boil was lanced this May when neo-nazi, baby killer, and former Pearce toady J.T. Ready put one of his beloved assault weapons to his own thick skull.

J.T. Ready has left the building, but ex-senators Pearce and Bundgaard are both attempting a comeback: one wants your vote, the other your coin. Neither will get it.

He wants your vote
When the 2011 legislative session began in Arizona, Russell Pearce was President of the knuckleheaded Senate and regularly referred to as "de facto Governor." Few doubted that the actual Governor, 13-second Jan Brewer, would be sitting in the executive office without Pearce's "papers please" bill and the 2010 Summer of Hate that accompanied it. Senator Pearce and the other Republicans stooges, strongly anti-LGBT, -choice, -immigrant, and -union, held a 2-1 majority in the Senate, and Scott Bundgaard was Pearce's Majority Leader, the #2 guy in the chamber. Both of those clowns are gone.

By a wide margin, voters in a very conservative Mesa district recalled Pearce last November for being such a divisive and ineffective dick. That his campaign was caught redhanded running a sham candidate and pulling other unethical stunts didn't sit well with the conservative law-and-order citizens in Mesa. Since being dumped by voters, Pearce was appointed vice-chair of the Arizona Republican Party, and he's running again for the Senate in a newly drawn district. But he's toast, and not just because District 25's new boundaries aren't as wingnut friendly to Pearce. People are simply tired of his hateful, unproductive drivel. Are there immigration issues? Yes, but immigration is not the cause of every fucking economic, medical, safety, or education problem, which is how Pearce frames it, loudly and often -- clinging to his fear-mongering "invasion" rhetoric even though immigration and border crime are down considerably.

While Senator Pearce still has support among party leaders (yeah, they're that crazy), among the general public, except for an increasingly inept lunatic fringe, Pearce has alienated almost everyone, including many Mormons and Republicans who previously made up his base. Last month two Phoenix restaurants and a school turned down his request to hold a fundraiser at their location. In the campaign finance reports filed this month, Pearce listed $2,800 in contributions, while his opponent in the GOP primary, businessman Bob Worsley, reported $67,000. During last fall's recall election, Pearce attracted huge donations from crazies nationwide, with the illegal assistance of Tom Tancredo's anti-immigration group. That money isn't flowing this time around. Even worse for Pearce, the Mayor of Mesa, the Mesa City Council, and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce have endorsed Worsley. Slap! Russell should prepare to return to his tin-foily Ban Amnesty Now hate-radio gig, where it's all immigration all the time!

He wants your money
Scott Bundgaard, now 44, has other plans, since he's waaay in debt because he's amassed a shitload of legal bills fighting the "conspiracy" that dethroned him from his "family values" Senate perch. First elected to the legislature in 1995, Bundgaard toed the line along with Pearce and other fundamentalist nutballs:
• introduced measures to end affirmative action in state hiring and university admissions
• sponsored a bill to include Bible studies in public schools
• supported the repeal of most gun laws and consistently received an A rating from the NRA
• called for the transfer of national parks and other federal land to the state
• maintained that healthcare is not a government responsibility
• voted against same-sex marriage and LGBT anti-discrimination laws
• never saw an anti-choice bill he didn't like
• advocated for more private prisons and charter schools
• supported all of Senator Pearce's ugly anti-immigration measures

Now the family values guy is broke because he doesn't know when to quit digging in court. Yeah, the party of personal responsibility. Bundgaard initially filed suit against Senate Ethics Committee members in December 2011, to stop their probe of the freeway fracas, even though the Senator originally said he "welcomed" an investigation. A judge quicky denied his request to halt the committee's work and Bundgaard's lawsuit fizzled. Then he tried to get three of the five Ethics Committee members removed, another challenge that was rebuffed. These legal disputes left a pile of bills he couldn't pay, and his lawyers said bye-bye.

Then last week, on June 29, Bundgaard and his new lawyer, hoping for a mighty fine payday, filed a 40-page notice of claim for $10 million (PDF) against the City of Phoenix, including the current and former mayors, and members of the police department. Bundgaard says their actions, not his, "cause[d] the Senator to lose his reputation of the highest moral caliber...."

I'm not making this shit up. Hold on tight for some high moral caliber.

On Feb. 25, 2011, police responded to an altercation on Route 51 in north central Phoenix, where they found a Mercedes and two beat up people on the freeway median. According to the police report, the driver, State Senator Scott Bundgaard, said,

"I'm state Senator Scott Bundgaard, and according to Article 4 of the Constitution, you cannot detain me. I'm immune from arrest when the Legislature is in session, in which it currently is." Arizona Republic

Arizona law does provide for legislative immunity during session, and so Bundgaard was not arrested, but the woman passenger, Aubry Ballard, was taken into custody, booked on one count of misdemeanor-assault, and spent the night in jail. The charge was dropped the next day after witnesses to the Route 51 melee, one of them an off-duty policeman, came forth.

The couple had been driving home from a "Dancing with the Stars" type charity event shortly before midnight when an argument, apparently over his dance moves with another partner, turned into hitting, slapping, and Bundgaard throwing Ballard's cell phone out the window. He then pulled the car into the HOV median and, according to five witnesses, uncorked on Aubry. She, the media, and later the police report essentially told the same story, and it wasn't good news for Senator Bundgaard or John McCain.

Witnesses testified to seeing Bundgaard shaking Ballard, throwing her to the ground in the HOV lane of Arizona 51 and possibly hitting her.

"He looked like he was trying to drag the person out of the vehicle. I saw his arms swinging at whoever was in the car," Linda Ann Calleja said. "It looked like he was beating the living crap out of whoever was in the car." Arizona Republic

Another witness testified that Bundgaard "grabbed the woman and slammed her up against the cement barricade in between the freeway and started throwing her around." The police detected alcohol on the Senator's breath, but he said, "I did not drink tonight," and then twice refused the officers' request to submit to a sobriety test. Ballard later told the Ethics Committee Bundgaard was drinking at the fundraiser.

Senator Pearce, natch, initially came to his pal's defense when "Bundgaard v. Ballard" exploded onto the front pages. It takes another woman whacker to appreciate the art, I guess.

In the days since Bundgaard's roadside incident, no one has worked harder than Pearce to deflect responsibility for this tawdry [and burgeoning] scandal away from his majority leader. It is all the fault of the media, according to Pearce, who now is limiting press access to the Senate floor to protect his second-in-command. Arizona Republic
Russell Pearce and the Senate's other family values lackeys gave Bundgaard the opportunity to explain himself, but even they weren't convinced by his inconsistent story, and he was removed from his leadership position on March 15, 2011. The very next week, a 50-page Phoenix police report corroborated Aubry Ballard's version of the freeway incident, contradicted most of what Bundgaard and his sycophants were saying to the press, and recommended the Senator be charged.

Sure enough, after the 2011 legislative session ended in June, Senator Bundgaard was no longer shielded by Arizona's immunity clause, and he was indeed charged with two counts of assault and endangerment, which carried up to a year in jail. His lawyers took to the media, using PR hacks to spin the Route 51 dust-up, and eventually they negotiated a deal with prosecutors: Bundgaard pled "no contest" in August 2011, avoiding (by minutes, literally) an Ethics Committee hearing. He was released on the condition he enter a domestic violence program or face jail time. Then, right before the 2012 legislative session was about to begin, Scott Bundgaard abruptly resigned from the Senate on January 6, 2012.

His short letter gave no indication why Bundgaard chose to suddenly resign. But lawmakers and attorneys familiar with the Ethics Committee investigation said that, after a day and a half of damning testimony, the Senate likely would have expelled Bundgaard. Arizona Republic
[Fruitcake sidebar: The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors named crazy nincompoop Judy Burges to fill Senator Bundgaard's seat. As a member of the House, she sponsored Arizona's first Birther Bill. Oh, goodie. Burges, who once worked for a mining company, knows a thing or two about the environment too. She's the lughead who introduced SB 1507 last session, which would've made it illegal for cities, counties, or state agencies to administer programs that save energy, cut pollution, conserve natural resources, encourage recycling, or otherwise foster a sustainable society. It's a totalitarian plot from the overlords at the UN, ya know.]

More high moral caliber
The judge's order that Scott Bundgaard undergo domestic violence counseling wasn't a first. Nor was it the first time he had cozied up to crime and abuse. In 1986, he was convicted of burglary for stealing stereos from a grocery store; the charge was dropped from his record after two years probation. The online Maricopa County Judicial Review lists literally dozens of civil and criminal cases involving Bundgaard. Did the twerp do anything except spend time in court? Among the many cases, in 2003 he lost his securities license after a client leveled a lawsuit against him for mishandling funds. In 2004, the FEC fined Bundgaard $3,500 for campaign finance shenanigans. There's a pattern here.

He was also a cog in the alternative fuels scandal that rocked the state in 2000. This GOP boondoggle was supposed to cost $2.5 - $10 million and give us cleaner air. But it was never about the environment, and always about the money, and greedheads exploited the program for themselves and their political hacks, leaving citizens a $140 million bill (budget wonks estimated the program was on its way to costing $800 million before the legislature ended it). The monumental boner cost popular Speaker of the House Jeff Groscost his political career and reputation; shortly thereafter he died of a heart attack at age 45. Bundgaard, who was the prime sponsor of the alt-fuels bill, was also in on the scam, bilking taxpayers to buy five trucks for himself and relatives. When the scandal exploded in the press, the Senator backed out of the deal and "happily bashed colleagues who went through with purchases."

Since the February 2011 freeway fight, Bundgaard has often described ex-girlfriend Aubry Ballard as a violent and unstable drunk who has "issues" with men, but his history with women certainly wouldn't earn him an award from Emily's List. Now this is just bizarre: In 2006, he and Anne Harwell were married at the Paradise Valley, Arizona, mansion of billionaire Frenchman Pierre Falcone, who had been accused of arms trafficking in Angola. The auspicious beginning to their couplehood turned even more sour immediately. Harwell called the cops on their honeymoon in Hawaii and asked them to escort her from the property! Although Bundgaard fought her in court, she had the mistake annulled.

[T]he woman who was oh-so-briefly Bundgaard's wife confirms his claim that he never hit her. He just "scared the daylights" out of her, and she believes he would have become violent had she stayed in the marriage... Harwell told police that Bundgaard was an expert at winning people over and was her best friend. Once they were married, however, she said he turned into a "monster," becoming manipulative and irrational. "It was like 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,'" police quoted her as saying. "She said he would go into a rage over nothing." Arizona Republic
Aubry Ballard saw the same Jekyll and Hyde man, telling the Senate Ethics Committee on Jan. 5, 2012 that, a few months before the 10-rounder on the highway, Senator Bundgaard went beyond loud threats:
Ballard testified that Bundgaard said he'd get counseling after he held her throat and then physically threw [her] out of his house after they argued on New Year's Eve of 2010, about two months before the February 2011 domestic violence incident that led to the ethics case. Associated Press
I won't link to it, but last week, on July 1, Bundgaard posted his version of this sad saga on the rightwing website, Sonoran Alliance. Here's the first paragraph:
I have never hit, pushed or abused any woman. Ever. I have never invoked legislative immunity to escape justice. On the night of February 25, 2011, I was the "victim" according to Phoenix Police officers and their reports, given a "victim rights pamphlet" and later assigned a "victim rights advocate" by the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office Victim Services Unit.
I guess the witnesses who saw the highway altercation, Aubry Ballard, and Bundgaard's first wife all imagined the anger and abuse. About the claim that he did not invoke legislative immunity that night, Phoenix police officers said that that's precisely what he did, and the record supports their testimony:
In the PPD's press release on the matter, Sergeant Tommy Thompson stated the following:
"After being taken into custody, Mr. Bundgaard informed the officers that he is an Arizona State Senator and as such, is immune from arrest, while the legislature is in session, which it currently is. Based upon Article IV, Part 2, Section 6 of the Arizona State Constitution, Mr. Bundgaard was correct and not arrested at that time however, the case will be submitted to the prosecutor's office for review."
The police report itself backs this statement up. Randall Patterson, one of the arresting officers, writes:
"Since Scott stated that he was a state Senator and that he was in session, my supervisor Sergeant Rodarme #6999 contacted the legal department to verify that information."
Further down, the same officer states:
"Sgt. Rodarme was advised by our on duty legal attorney that under Article 4 of the [Arizona] Constitution that if the Senate was in session and unless Scott committed treason or breach of the peace then he was immune to arrest. It was verified that [the Legislature] was in session."
New Times
In Bundgaard's 40-page notice of claim, he was the victim in the freeway squabble. In his telling, Aubry Ballard "is a volatile woman given to intense anger and demands" who was falling-down drunk that night. At the same time, Bundgaard alleges that his enemies conspired to remove him, because he had a "political conflict" with then-Mayor Phil Gordon, while Senate Ethics Committee Chair Ron Gould was "a known political rival." The ex-Senator's $10 million claim essentially says that Aubry Ballard, Phoenix police officers, several on-record witnesses, Mayor Gordon, Senator Gould, and especially the media colluded to destroy him. Writing in the Arizona Republic, Laurie Roberts sums it up:
To recap, either:

A. Bundgaard is lying.

Or B. His ex-girlfriend is lying and at least five police officers are lying and five witnesses are either lying or so brainwashed they don’t know what they saw. All part of some built-in bias against men and a dastardly plot by the city to bury Scott Bundgaard.

And so we owe him $10 million.

And the Arizona crazy keeps on hemorrhaging. Next up: Joe Arpaio.
A trial will begin as scheduled on July 19 in a racial profiling lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio after the judge who will decide the case rejected handing the matter to another judge. Arizona Capitol Times

Originally posted to Maggie's Farm on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 03:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks.

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