The attorney for embattled Senate Majority Leader Scott Bundgaard, who has been under political pressure to relinquish his leadership position after being involved in a domestic violence incident Feb. 25, today released the results of a polygraph test that shows he is telling the truth.
In the three-question exam, Bundgaard said he did not touch Aubry Ballard with the intention of harming her during a physical altercation on the side of the freeway, nor did he claim legislative immunity when he was detained by the police at the scene. He also said he told the police that he had had to take his handgun from Ballard during the fracas.
“Scott ducked no questions. And we sought out a polygrapher with excellent credentials. The result? He didn’t just pass the test, he aced it,” attorney Mark Goldman said in a news release, adding the polygraph test covered “all of the relevant and tough questions concerning the incident.”
In the same statement, Bundgaard said he hopes the result will “give pause to some and encourage others to re-evaluate.”
“I told people I would clear my name. This is one step in that process. There will be others in the next several days. We are working closely with law enforcement and are optimistic of a resolution soon,” he said.
The test was administered March 9 by a forensic polygraph examiner from The Drake Group, a Phoenix firm that specializes in forensic consulting.
The report on the exam also includes lengthy narrative of the evening’s events, provided by Bundgaard.
Polygraph exams are not generally admissible in Arizona courts, though they can be entered into evidence if both the prosecutors and defendants agree to conduct such a test. The exams are widely considered to be unreliable, though they are often used by law enforcement and prosecutors during criminal investigations.
Since he has not been charged by the police with any offense, the polygraph test appears to be primarily an attempt by Bundgaard to clear his name in the court of public opinion.
The report’s release comes at the end of a week in which Senate Democrats called for Bundgaard to resign from the Legislature and the Republican caucus privately deliberated whether he should be removed as its leader.
According to the senator’s narrative in the report, Ballard accused Bundgaard of putting his hands “all over” his dance partner at the charity event.
Ballard, whom Bundgaard claimed was “very intoxicated,” became more erratic as they drove down the freeway, the report said.
As they were driving, Ballard opened the passenger side of his car and Bundgaard instinctively reached across Ballard to secure the door, “preventing her from falling out of his car and into the open freeway,” the report said.
She then grasped at the steering wheel, causing it to swerve across multiple lanes, the report said.
According to the report, Ballard struck Bundgaard in the face several times and clawed at his chest, tearing his shirt. She also threw his suit out of the window. After he pulled over to try and retrieve his suit, Ballard had crawled across the center console and said she was going to take his vehicle and leave him by the roadside.
“Senator Bundgaard attempted to remove the keys from Ms. Ballad’s vicinity to prevent her from driving away drunk, as she was now a danger not just to herself but to anyone near her,” the report said. “At this point, Ms. Ballard reached into the center console and attempted to reach for a handgun that Senator Bundgaard kept there.”
The report said Bundgaard took the gun away from his girlfriend “while it was still secure in its container” and tossed it in the back seat of the car. He then removed Ballard from the car “for both his safety and hers,” the report said, adding he locked his car and walked a few yards away from Ballard to avoid further confrontation.
According to the report, Bundgaard told the police about the handgun when they asked if there were any weapons in his car, and when he was asked to identify himself, Bundgaard said he was an Arizona senator.
The gun issue had been come a central point in Bundgaard’s struggle to keep his position.
According to the Associated Press, senators said Bundgaard’s plea to fellow Republicans to let him keep his leadership post included his assertion that, during the quarrel, Ballard grabbed his gun.
Two Republican senators on March 9 discussed what was said a day earlier in the closed majority caucus. They spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
The two senators said Bundgaard claimed he would be cleared on the basis of more information that will come out regarding the alleged domestic violence incident, including information on Ballard’s handling of a gun.
One of the two senators said Bundgaard said it was his gun. The other senator didn’t recall whether Bundgaard specified that.
Bundgaard’s assurance that exonerating evidence was forthcoming was decisive in the Republican caucus’ decision to let him keep his leadership post for at least another week, the two senators said.
But a spokesman for Ballard said Bundgaard keeps a gun in his car, but that it was untrue that Ballard handled a gun during the incident.
“Aubry did no such thing,” said the spokesman, David Leibowitz. He added that Bundgaard’s story “just continues to change. It just continues to defy belief.”
A police report on the incident did not mention a gun being found or discussed, and a police spokesman said on March 9 he did not know whether police found a gun in the vehicle. Detectives are investigating the incident and are expected to write at least one additional report in about a week, said the spokesman, Sgt. Tommy Thompson.