State Sen. Scott Bundgaard welcomes the possibility of a Senate Ethics Committee hearing on a complaint stemming from a February altercation with a former girlfriend, considering a hearing a chance to tell what happened, an attorney for the Peoria Republican said Tuesday.
“The senator welcomes a hearing and (it) will have his full cooperation, to say the least,” attorney Austin Woods said.
However, a response letter being prepared on behalf of Bundgaard will say that the Ethics Committee’s current chairman, Republican Sen. Ron Gould, of Lake Havasu City, should not be involved because he has made comments that indicate he couldn’t be fair or impartial, Woods said.
“He needs to recuse himself,” the attorney said.
Contacted later, Gould said he won’t step aside and that comments he made were in general terms, not specifically about Bundgaard. He said he could be fair.
Democratic Sen. Steve Gallardo filed the ethics complaint after Bundgaard pleaded no contest in August to a misdemeanor endangerment charge stemming from the incident involving him and ex-girlfriend Aubry Ballard.
A misdemeanor assault charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement negotiated with prosecutors and accepted by a judge. Under the agreement, the endangerment charge also will be dismissed if Bundgaard completes a domestic-violence diversion program’s classes.
“It’s something that the senator deeply regretted — not having the opportunity to go through that night and give piece by piece his explanation of what happened,” Woods said. “And (to have) somebody ask Ms. Ballard what happened that night.”
Said Woods: “He’s treating this like the trial that he did not get to have because of the deal he took.”
Bundgaard and Ballard each had bruises and scrapes when police responded to witnesses’ calls reporting a struggle between a man and woman on the side of State Route 51.
Each blamed the other, but police said witnesses’ accounts supported Ballard’s statement that Bundgaard pushed or pulled her to the ground after an argument as they returned home after a charity dance.
Gould said he was trying to schedule an Ethics Committee meeting for the panel to decide whether to launch an investigation of the complaint against Bundgaard.
Because the Legislature is not in session and because of the short work week following Labor Day, it’s likely the meeting will be held next week, Gould said.
A decision to launch an investigation would start a 20-day clock for holding a hearing.