A former Arizona senator who resigned amid questions over a domestic violence incident strode back into the spotlight Thursday when he got into a verbal spat on Twitter with a prominent local public-relations consultant on Thursday.
The back-and-forth began after former Sen. Scott Bundgaard emerged from a social media lull and retweeted a post about the candidates vying for his former seat.
That’s when public relations consultant David Leibowitz pounced, tweeting Thursday morning that one of the candidates mentioned by Bundgaard is a “bitter partisan” and one of Bundgaard’s apologists.
Bundgaard responded by calling Leibowitz a “political hack” and criticized a $100,000 contract he got to work as a spokesman for former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.
The online tiff got the attention of local media, politicians, and others, and caused many to voice their support or opposition to both men, or simply to say how much they enjoyed the no-holds-barred spat.
Bundgaard has laid low since he stepped down from the state Senate on Jan. 6 shortly before he would have testified to the Senate Ethics Committee on whether he should be disciplined for a domestic violence incident on a Phoenix freeway last February involving his then-girlfriend, Aubry Ballard.
Ballard testified that Bundgaard hit her twice, threw her cellphone out the window while they drove, and then stopped on the freeway and pulled her out of the car. She said that she hit him in the chest and face in response.
Bundgaard has denied assaulting Ballard. He pleaded no contest in August to a misdemeanor endangerment charge under a plea deal that dropped an assault charge and required Bundgaard to get domestic violence counseling.
Phoenix police officers testified that Bundgaard would have been arrested on possible domestic violence charges and suspicion of drunken driving if he hadn’t claimed legislative immunity, which bars arrests of lawmakers for most charges while the Legislature is in session.
Leibowitz, who is a friend of Ballard’s and has his own PR firm, has been critical of Bundgaard since the incident.
On Thursday during their spat, Leibowitz suggested in a tweet that he and Bundgaard should get lunch or, better yet, a ride down the freeway where he and Ballard fought. Bundgaard responded with a joke about Leibowitz’s weight, prompting Leibowitz to post a recent photo of himself, writing that he is “fit and trim.”