Forced-Out Arizona Pol Sues Phoenix Police | Courthouse News Service
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Forced-Out Arizona Pol Sues Phoenix Police

PHOENIX (CN) - The Arizona Senate's former majority leader claims in court that the mayor and police chief of Phoenix conspired to defame him with false testimony at a Senate Ethics Committee hearing, the day before he quit the Senate.

Scott Bundgaard, a Republican from Peoria, a Phoenix suburb, claims he was forced to resign after the defendants portrayed him as a "domestic violator."

That came after a Feb. 25, 2011 incident in which his then-girlfriend Aubry Ballard was arrested "following a verbal and physical assault on plaintiff," Bundgaard says in his lengthy complaint.

Bundgaard resigned on Jan. 6, just before he was to testify to the Senate Ethics Committee about the fracas. The Arizona Republic reported at the time that the state Senate was expected to expel him if he had not resigned.

On Jan. 5, the first day of testimony to the Ethics Committee, witnesses and police "painted a picture of a possibly intoxicated Bundgaard getting into a quarrel with Ballard and stopping his car on the side of Arizona 51, partly in the HOV lane. During the quarrel, witnesses said, he hit Ballard, yanked her from the car into the HOV lane and shook her," the Republic reported on Jan. 6, in the story announcing Bundgaard's resignation.

Bundgaard sued Phoenix, its former Mayor Phil Gordon, its former Police Chief Jack Harris, five police officers and the PR firm Leibowitz Solo and its owner-operatory David Leibowitz, in Maricopa County Court.

The police officer defendants are Det. Bryn Ray, and Officers Christi Bill, Robert Rodarme, Terry Graber and Randall Patterson.

Bundgaard claims that Rodarme, Patterson and Graber "did not testify truthfully" at the Senate Ethics Committee Hearing, and that they had "several undisclosed biases."

Bundgaard claims: "They assumed that even a falling-down drunk woman is to be believed over a sober man showing multiple bleeding wounds about his face and torn clothing.

"They construed all facts against the male involved in the event.

"They failed to disclose their own training to the effect that domestic violence of

the shoving, pushing and hitting type is perpetrated by women against men at least half (50%) of the time.

"They failed to disclose their training to the effect that assumptions based on gender should play no role in ascertaining who is the 'victim' and who is the 'perpetrator'."

Bundgaard also claims that the three officers "did not testify truthfully about plaintiff's revelation at the scene that Ballard, who was out of control, had seized a legal firearm kept by plaintiff that had to be wrested out of her control by plaintiff."

Bundgaard claims that defendant Det. Bryn Ray "had born personal ill will toward plaintiff from March 2011, when she had intentionally and maliciously determined to create a police record that would make it appear that plaintiff was the attacker in the Ballard incident."

He claims that Ray knew "there had been no forensic investigation at the scene that corroborated Ballard's story," and that she failed to "interview exculpatory witnesses who would support the initial officer's conclusion that plaintiff was a victim."

Bundgaard claims Ray released his confidential medical records to "create the impression at the Senate hearings that plaintiff was misusing drugs or was taking drugs that were the cause of plaintiff's alleged aggression."

He claims Officer Bill also presented false testimony during the committee hearing, claiming that Bundgaard shoved Ballard on New Year's Eve and "that the type of medication plaintiff has taken for a juvenile-related medical condition could cause plaintiff to be aggressive."

In his 48-pae complaint, Bundgaard claims that former Mayor Phil Gordon "developed a dislike for plaintiff beginning in about January 2011, due to plaintiff's advocacy for Senate Bill 1322, a bill that would inject additional transparency and competitiveness into public procurement."

That, Bundgaard claims, led Gordon to "direct(ing) Leibowitz and Leibowitz Solo to 'represent' Ballard at taxpayer's expense."

Leibowitz then "maliciously and intentionally published false, defamatory statements about plaintiff verbally and in published writings stating that plaintiff was a 'domestic violator' and 'epic scumbag', 'in need of psychological help', a disgraced legislator' who had a 'lack of ethics' as 'soul-less', a 'liar' and other false and defamatory labels," the complaint states.

He claims that the police officer defendants fraudulently concealed exculpatory evidence, and that "The concealment caused plaintiff to lose his Senate seat, salary and benefits and to expend money and use personal resources to defend himself against unknown and undisclosed facts and therefore actually and proximately caused him economic injury and harm in an amount to be proved at trial."

Bundgaard says he entered a no-contest plea to one court of reckless endangerment on Aug. 16, 2011, "the factual basis of which was his having stopped his vehicle in the median lane immediately left of the HOV lane" during the incident.

He has been unable to find employment since the hearing because Leibowitz contacted his employer, the Joe Foss Institute, "and put pressure on the Institute to terminate plaintiff as a consultant," Bundgaard says in the complaint.

He seeks punitive damages for conspiracy, abuse of process, defamation, false light,

Privacy invasion, civil rights violations, fraudulent concealment, tortuous interference with contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and public records violations.

He is represented by Suzanne Dallimore of Tempe.

Follow @jamierossCNS
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