Arizona senate majority leader removed from post

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona lawmaker who was detained by police last month after an alleged altercation with his girlfriend was removed as the state senate majority leader on Tuesday.

Arizona Senate Republicans voted during a closed door session to oust Scott Bundgaard from the No. 2 post in the GOP-controlled chamber.

“With his pending legal issues, it was taking up too much of his time to do his job effectively,” said Senator Ron Gould, chairman of the Senate ethics committee. “For me, it was because of what happened. I thought it looked bad for the caucus.”

Bundgaard said he had no hard feelings and would live with the caucus vote.

“I serve at the pleasure of the caucus and have emphasized that fact to my caucus for the past two weeks,” Bundgaard told Reuters. “I did not want my personal life, which has been sensationalized in the media, to be a distraction at this critical time.”

The 43-year-old Republican has faced mounting pressure to step down in the weeks since the incident.

Police said they were called to the scene, a parked car along a state highway, on February 25 and found Bundgaard and ex-girlfriend, Aubry Ballard, 34, with marks on their bodies indicating a physical confrontation.

Both were detained, but Bundgaard was released after police said he invoked legislative immunity. Lawmakers can be exempt from arrest while the state legislature is in session.

No charges have yet been filed in the case.

Bundgaard is co-sponsor of controversial Arizona state legislation seeking to challenge the right to U.S. citizenship for children born in the state whose parents are illegal immigrants or other non-citizens.

Reporting by David Schwartz, Editing by Dan Whitcomb