Roger Montoya, a Northern New Mexico Democrat who is running for the state House of Representatives, confirmed Monday he appeared in pornographic films when he was a struggling college student nearly four decades ago.

“I am not proud of that choice, as I was young, and naïve,” Montoya said in a statement posted on his campaign’s Facebook page. “But those experiences helped me to understand the exploitation young people face.”

Montoya’s past work in pornography was first reported last week by the Piñon Post, a conservative online news organization that said Montoya appeared to engage in “unprotected sex in multiple gay films” under the names “Joe Savage” or “Eric Martinez.” The news organization said it had not been able to confirm the allegations.

Montoya had remained silent on the report, which had circulated on social media, until Monday.

In his statement, he said, “Those experiences do not reflect who I am, and they are insignificant in the scope of my life’s work, yet they helped inspire my dedication to my community and the work I do to make sure that youth have opportunities, support and confidence.”

Montoya, an artist, dancer and longtime community organizer who was recognized as one of 10 CNN Heroes in 2019, leads Moving Arts Española, a local youth center that offers classes in arts, music, dance and gymnastics. He also has worked with youth on anti-violence initiatives.

In 2000, he was named one of The New Mexican‘s 10 Who Made a Difference for his volunteer work with several nonprofits and for organizing an HIV support group in Española.

Montoya also helped implement the first HIV education programs in Española schools. He has said he was working as a professional dancer in New York City in 1986 when he tested positive for HIV.The 59-year-old Velarde resident is running for the vacant House District 40 seat in the Nov. 3 general election against Republican Justin Salazar-Torrez, an Española city councilor.

Rep. Joseph Sanchez, D-Alcalde, chose not to run for reelection to District 40. Instead, he made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination in the 3rd Congressional District race.

Salazar-Torrez said he would continue to remain focused on his campaign rather than Montoya.

“Right now, that is their campaign’s issue that they’re dealing with,” he said of Montoya’s revelations. “We have not put much energy, thought or attention into what the Montoya campaign is going through. Our focus has been just on our race.”

Asked whether he thought the revelations would hurt Montoya’s election bid, Salazar-Torrez said voters would have to decide.

He also was sympathetic to Montoya.

“We’re here to offer any support [to the Montoya campaign] that we can, whatever that may be,” he said. “We live in a society that tends to bully, that tends to nitpick at everybody, and that’s not what we’re about.”

Montoya declined requests for an interview. But in his statement, he said he was 22 when he appeared in the films.

“I was a modern dancer and performer living in Los Angeles,” he wrote. “I worked hard to earn my own way, never relying on anyone else, including my parents. I was auditioning for commercials and doing my best to succeed. Among those choices were two adult films I acted in as an adult, with other adults, in a very different environment and time.”

Montoya said he knew when he was asked to run for a seat in the state House that “Republicans and their allies would bring up whatever they could to discredit me.”

“If the Republican Party chooses to focus on something I did nearly four decades ago rather than how hard I will work to bring back our devastated economy, provide healthcare, create new jobs and industries, to improve our public schools, to fix our crumbling infrastructure, and to protect our land, acequias and our way of life, that is their choice,” he wrote. “I trust the voters to make a better choice because we have so much at stake this November.”

Late Monday, the Republican Party of New Mexico called on Montoya to drop out of the race.

“This irresponsible and reckless behavior of starring in gay porno films, whether it takes place now or years ago, is unbecoming of any candidate or elected official,” party Chairman Steve Pearce said in a statement. “If you’re a public servant, you must be held to the highest standards.”John Block, founder and editor of the Piñon Post, said in an interview Montoya appeared to not take responsibility for his actions.“It seems like he is trying to blame the Republican Party at large for his decisions when, in reality, it’s the voters that deserve to know who their potential future representative is,” Block said.

On his campaign page on Facebook, Montoya’s supporters lauded him for what they called his integrity, candor and commitment to public service.

“Who people have sex with is none of our business,” Greg Sonnenfeld, an engineer and political organizer, wrote in a thread that generated dozens of comments. “Keep representing the community.”

University of New Mexico political science professor Lonna Atkeson said “sex scandals” are the least likely to affect the outcome of an election. She pointed to President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton as examples.

“I think this is pretty low level, to be honest,” she said, referring to Montoya’s work in the porn industry. “This is something that he can overcome. Now, you never know how news is going to travel and what that’s going to do. But in general, I would say that he could dodge this if he has the resources to do it and stay focused on his campaign.”

House Speaker Brian Egolf said Montoya wanted to be “open and honest” as he campaigned.

“People should, and I believe do, make their decision on whom to support in an election based on who they are and what they can offer to their community,” he said. “On that account, Roger Montoya is the clear and obvious choice to be elected to the state House.

“He has built his life as one of service to his community and has given himself for decades to make Española and the Española Valley and all of Northern New Mexico a better place,” Egolf continued. “His record of service to the community is exemplary. He will make a fantastic state representative.”

Egolf said a decades-old decision that Montoya says he regrets and wouldn’t repeat should have “no bearing on whether or not voters place their trust and confidence” in the candidate.

“I support him wholeheartedly and admire and respect him, his courage and his commitment to his community,” Egolf said.

In his statement, Montoya said he has brought people “from all walks of life” together to tackle some of the state’s most pressing issues over the past three decades.

“I’m proud of helping people in rural New Mexico deal with life-threatening illnesses during the AIDS and COVID pandemics,” he wrote.

“I am proud of bringing arts to the schools in a new and creative way that included an entire community,” Montoya said. “I am proud of the non-profits I’ve founded and the work they are doing today to inspire our community, to provide food and shelter to our homeless, to feed and nourish, and address chronic substance abuse.

“I am proud to have worked alongside so many in this community to bring change for the better, and nothing will change that.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

(36) comments

Tamara Lichtenstein

Way to go, GOP, outing your own hypocrisy, homophobia, and priggishness. Mercy! Get a grip on yourselves (double entendre intended); you'll feel better.

Michael Grimler

Oh please.

If this had been a straight conservative Republican, most of you would be shouting for his head to be impaled on a pike.

Jim Klukkert

Wrong Michael Grimler, just Wrong.

ten one

What matters is what kind of porn he did.

David Lindblom

Roger has plenty to be proud of and deserves support.

Prominent Republican Steve Pearce remarked, "If you're a public servant, you must be held to the highest standard.” Would these be the standards your anti-mask, super-spreading, grab them by the …, p o r n star bribing Commander in Chief exemplifies, or are you a hypocrite?

My grandfather was a conservative mayor of Clayton, NM. He and I argued about many serious matters, but looking back it was all about policy. I wonder what he would think of the GOP today.

Sincerely,

David Lindblom

Assistant Professor

Film & Digital Media Arts

Eli Ben-Naim

After following several other political news stories, I am noticing a persistent pattern with Daniel J. Chacon reporting being politically one sided. The pattern is that liberal democrats are on the receiving end. The beneficiaries of his reporting? republicans or conservative democrats (aka democrats in name only).

Steve Spraitz

Who cares? It was like others say, 40 years ago so what .

Ken Kyntale

We can thank the Novus Ordo sect of Vatican II, which now occupies our churches, for the moral dissolution of once-Catholic New Mexico.

Lupe Molina

The real scandal here is calling the Piñon Post a "news organization." It's like calling candy corn a "natural supplement."

Khal Spencer

Thank you, Lupe, for the huge laugh you just provided me! Well done!

Alexandra Lynch

Saying that “If you’re a public servant, you must be held to the highest standards" is beyond ludicrous. Republican Party gets the prize for most hypocritical.

Lisa Clark

I have met him and marched with Roger and I will say he is one of the more committed community activists in Northern New Mexico. We are paying a lot of lip service today regarding second chances for people that have done things that have actually physically hurt others. I fully support restorative justice. If we believe people deserve the opportunity to become their best selves, in spite of past behaviors, prison time, etc. Then let's look in our own dark corners and stand with a man we know in fact has done nothing but give of his time and energies to make his community its best.

Dee Finney

This is ridiculous. Roger Montoya is a leader in our county and we are thrilled he is running for the seat. Let us please encourage people to run for public office. No wonder people are reluctant to run when you read a story like this focusing on ancient history. This man has done so much for us here in Rio Arriba, and does not deserve this kind of smear.

Charles Kron

Who cares about something that happened almost forty years ago. Looking at where he is now and all he has accomplished over his adult life he appears to be a great guy. Better than me and likely most of the rest of us. How does something from almost forty years ago even matter?

The worst part is those who are pushing this crud are many of the same people who wanted us to believe that Judge Kavanaugh'a getting drunk and stepping out of bounds when he was a teen somehow mattered. Politics has become disgusting. We need more honorable people in politics. Instead, we get the Trumps, Pelosis, Clintons and their hanging-on clowns who have brought us to this.

Khal Spencer

Hear, hear!

Lupe Molina

"Stepping out of bounds" is a weird way to spell "alleged sexual assault." And while Kavanaugh was 18, he was an adult. I only reply because I don't think this comment should stand unopposed. There's a VERY big difference between consensual sex between adults on camera and the attempted assault of a woman at a party.

Paula Garcia

I live in District 40 and I am a proud supporter of Roger Montoya. He has dedicated his life to serving our community and he has make a positive impact in the lives of many families and youth in northern New Mexico. I am less interested in what he did decades ago at a vulnerable time in his life than what he has to offer for our future. We have serious challenges to address in our district including addressing rural poverty, educational disparities, and land and water protection. I hope to see more coverage of the very important race for the House District 40 seat based on the important issues facing our families and not on salacious gossip parroted from a right wing blog. Roger is a natural leader who is loved by many. His leadership is transformative and his courage and vision give me hope for our future.

Jim Klukkert

I know in the 'Me Too' moment, when we strive to protect our people from sexual exploitation, we need to stand strong against those who have engaged in criminal and exploitive behavior.

I also understand that one who has suffered abuse, may bring forward from that darkness a light to a path of wisdom and healing.

From what I read, I believe Sr. Roger Montoya has made many contributions to our community. While I wish this information was not a surprise regarding some trouble Sr. Montoya had in his youth, I am not sure how one would volunteer this in today's partisan climate. And if Montoya has worked through his issues, he may be just the sort of wise and compassionate person we want in the NM Legislature.

TO BE NOTED BY ALL: the PINON POST is an ALT-RIGHT DISINFORMATION SITE that actively works for the Destruction of the American Democratic Experiment.

Recently on. the Pinon Post: “https://pinonpost.com/heinrich-refuses-to-wish-trump-well-during-covid-19-recovery-bashes-him-instead/"

In point of fact, Sen. Heinrich did not refuse to wish Trump well during the President’s covid-19 recovery. The Pinon Post wrote a clever, highly manipulative headline, to which there was no Truth!

Be warned, those who rely on Pinon Post- When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

Khal Spencer

When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

Yep.

Liz Gold

This information is ancient history and in no way affects Roger Montoya's suitability for office or his demonstrated commitment to improving life in his Northern New Mexico community. I agree with Roger that this experience gives him even more compassion for youth facing extremely challenging situations such as drugs, poverty, and a shortage of good-paying, meaningful jobs. Surely we can find forgiveness in our hearts for the mistakes of youth. I have seldom felt more inspired in my life to vote for a candidate. Roger Montoya will be one of our finest legislators.

Brad Doubles

Another view....maybe there are some voters in his district that would appreciate this information? Doesnt make any difference to me or my vote, but right, wrong or indifferent, people are free to vote on whatever merits they hold important. Im not sure it really is a smear or a denigration of his lifestyle, after all, the lgbtq community wants to be out in the open right? Nobody on this forum had an issue disclosing D Trumps relationship with Stormy...right? So here it is, more of the same....

Heather Nordquist

The issue with Stormy was not who Trump slept with, but that he paid her off to keep quiet about it weeks before an election, in defiance of federal election laws.

Carlos Vasquez

[thumbup]

Khal Spencer

And, so what? I hope Roger made more money than he would have made working a drudge or a dangerous job at low wages. Exploitation is not confined to the adult film industry. It exists anywhere where unfair advantage is taken of a worker.

As far as the eighties, AIDS was in its infancy, we didn't know a lot, and were terrified of it. I'm glad Roger is still with us and hope he does well in his campaign.

If this is the best these conservative dirt rags can up up with, its not surprising the GOP folks are are losing races left and right in New Mexico. Meanwhile, let he who did not sin in his or her youth cast the first stone.

Katherine Martinez

Conservative dirt rags, aye? You are setting a very low bar for both parties. Frankly, sexual dirt is par for the course in politics--just say your Mea culpa's and you'll be ok; it's not confined to either party and we all know this.

Jim Klukkert

Katherine Martinez : Do you dispute that Pinon Post is an extreme ALT-RIGHT DISINFORMATION SITE, sowing division and actively working for the Destruction of the American Democratic Experiment?

The Post that attacked Sen. Martin Heinrich was an outrageous Lie based on simply conflating events. Besides that story, the site carries an article with these false distortions, accusing the NY Times of promoting anti-Hispanic hate. In this latter piece, Pinon Post accuses the Native activist group of being not only anti-Hispanic, but also as being ‘closely aligned with with anti-Semitic terrorist groups, specifically Lebanon-based Hezbollah.’

Readers might well remember who you rely upon for your news and views.

Thanks Katherine, for the clarity.

Katherine Martinez

Jim--to be quite honest, I have never heard of the Pinon Post until I read this story.

Khal Spencer

Low bar? In today's politics, there is no rock bottom.

If we want perfect humans to run for office, there will be none since one person's ghastly morals offense is another person's nothingburger. I'm really sorry that the candidate is being dragged through this muck and hope he realizes that most of us are not judging him on his long ago movie adventures but on his history of public service to his district.

Publishing hit pieces is one of the kinds of mud that gets slung around during elections and both major parties have dark money groups that throw the mud under cover of Citizens United. Negative campaigning, by whatever means whether dark money or highly partisan hit piece media, is designed to drive down voter turnout.

More than enough said. I hope Mr. Montoya wins his election.

Isaac Dakota Casados

Where has the Santa Fe New Mexican gone? When did this publication become northern New Mexico's version of TMZ or US Weekly? Shame on the editor, Daniel Chacon and anyone attached to this story for their blatant homophobic attack on Roger Montoya, as it only hurts everyone one of us in the LGBTQ community. Daniel, as a member of our own community, should know better.

Conversely, to give the Pinon Post the title as a legitimate conservative news organization is deplorable as well. It is a trash Trump blog with little to no "investigative reporting."

Today, you have shamed this community, you have shamed our LGBTQ community, and you have shamed yourselves.

Khal Spencer

I doubt this newspaper wants to trash Mr. Montoya. Maybe its better to get this aired out and over with. As I said above, its a nothingburger.

Kelly McReynolds

I agree! It seems that most of Mr. Chason’s “stories” are either from trolling the internet for unsubstantiated claims, fanning the flames of trolls’ vile comments on Facebook or just scanning the comments section of the Santa Fe Bulletin Board page on FB. It’s GROSS and should not be considered journalism. Try writing an article not based on hearsay or opinion. The way Mr. Chacon “researches” and verifies his statements and accusations certainly needs to be improved.

Heather Nordquist

To be fair to Mr. Chacon, Roger put out a press release with this information following reporting from the "Pinion Post". He does have a duty to report it.

Carlos Vasquez

[yawn]

Jim Klukkert

[thumbup]

Carlos Vasquez

[thumbup]

Carlos Vasquez

Ya d chacon...

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