PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Senate Ethics Committee on Friday resumed its hearing on whether Republican Sen. Scott Bundgaard, of Peoria, should be disciplined for a February domestic incident involving an ex-girlfriend.
Bundgaard's lawyers are expected to call him to testify after the prosecution finishes its case.
A former girlfriend of state Sen. Scott Bundgaard testified Thursday in an ethics hearing for the Peoria Republican that he struck her twice during a car ride as the two argued over his decision to take dancing lessons while failing to take the time to get counseling for a previous physical altercation.
Aubry Ballard testified during a Senate Ethics Committee hearing on an ethics complaint against Bundgaard. The hearing could lead to a recommendation to the full Senate for a letter of reprimand, a formal censure or even expulsion from the Senate for the incident that left both Bundgaard and Ballard with cuts and bruises.
Ballard testified that Bundgaard said he'd get counseling after he held her throat and then physically threw 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.
Bundgaard didn't get the counseling but did sign up for dance lessons for a charity event and planned to take more, Ballard testified.
The couple was returning from the charity event when they argued on the evening of Feb. 25.
"That dancing was going to take precedence over counseling upset me," Ballard said, adding later. "We start arguing. Obviously it was about priorities in the relationship."
Bundgaard struck her twice in the chest with fist while driving and she responded in self defense by striking his face, she said. "I reacted. I'd never been hit by a man before."
Bundgaard, who has denied assaulting Ballard, is also scheduled to testify in the ethics hearing. He pleaded no contest Aug. 16 to misdemeanor endangerment under a plea agreement that resulted in dismissal of an assault charge.
Independent Counsel Michael Liburdi during his open statement that Bundgaard should be expelled from the Senate.
Bundgaard assaulted Ballard then put her and responding police officers at risk by stopping in the median of a Phoenix freeway before using a legislative immunity to avoid being arrested, Liburdi said. "The time has come for this committee to uphold the integrity of this institution and to hold Sen. Bundgaard accountable."
Bundgaard attorney Andre Merrett told the committee that his client regrets his role in the altercation. But he said Bundgaard never intended to harm Ballard or put her at risk.
"Better judgment should have prevailed and should have continued at a private location," Merrett said, apparently referring to Bundgaard's stopping his car along the median of Arizona 51.
But Bundgaard never intended to harm Ballard or put her at risk and that means he shouldn't be punished by the Senate, Merrett said.
Bundgaard and Ballard each reported to police being struck by the other. A police report said an investigation could not determine how the physical altercation began during an argument between the couple. But the report said witnesses reported seeing Bundgaard pull Ballard from his car and that she landed on the ground.
Witnesses testified Thursday they saw a man in a physical altercation with somebody as the man stood outside a car's open passenger door.
Several witnesses, including an off-duty police officer, said they saw a man in various stages of aggressively pulling a woman from the car, and another witness said she saw a man flailing his arms at the car.
"It looked like punches to me," said that witness, Linda Ann Calleja.
In videotaped deposition testimony shown to the committee, Phoenix police Sgt. Rich Maiocco said the scene looked like "somebody (was) getting their ass kicked."
Phoenix Police Department and state Highway Patrol officers who responded to 911 calls by motorists testified that Bundgaard smelled of alcohol at the scene, where he was handcuffed and then placed in a police car before being driven to a nearby park for questioning.
Several officers testified Bundgaard invoked a constitutional provision granting limited immunity for legislators from arrest during legislative sessions and that Bundgaard would have been arrested but for the immunity provision.
"I don't remember the exact quote, but it was something like I want to be taken out of handcuffs because I'm a senator. I'm in session," said Officer Terry Graber, one of the responding Phoenix officers.
"If he had not invoked legislative immunity, he would have been arrested for assault-domestic violence and possibly DUI," Graber also said.
Bundgaard has denied invoking the immunity privilege, and Liburdi in his opening statement said that was a lie
Bundgaard was allowed to be driven home that night by a relative, while Ballard was arrested and jailed overnight. Prosecutors later declined to charge her.
Ballard said police told her "someone has to go to jail" that she was the one. "He got to go home ... because he claimed legislative immunity," she said.
The immunity provision does not bar prosecution later, and Phoenix city prosecutors charged Bundgaard with misdemeanor assault and endangerment.
The hearing could result in a recommendation to the Senate for a letter of reprimand, a formal censure or even expulsion for Bundgaard.
Associated Press reporter Bob Christie contributed.