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Roger Montoya should stay on the ballot

State House of Representatives candidate Roger Montoya says he’s not proud of appearing in porn films in the 1980s. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Roger Montoya, the Democratic nominee in Española-centered state House District 40, is facing a political scandal. A conservative internet site revealed that, in his early 20s, Montoya – now 59 years old – performed in porn films. The Republican Party has called for him to drop out of the race.

He shouldn’t. Montoya is a lot more than whatever got him into sex movies as a neophyte actor and dancer four decades ago.

Today, Montoya heads Moving Arts Española, a youth development center that uses dance, music and other art forms to promote confidence and goals for its young participants. His work with the program earned him recognition as a top 10 finalist for CNN’s hero of the year award in 2019.

He’s also been instrumental in plans for Española’s first homeless shelter and school arts programs, and has long been active in supporting victims of the AIDS virus, among other community and nonprofit works.

Montoya says he’s not proud of his porn film experience “as I was young and naïve, but those experiences helped me to understand the exploitation young people face.”

Up to now, Montoya has been a source of pride for Española and Rio Arriba County, which often finds itself on the wrong end of statistics on economics, drugs and crime. Robert B. Trapp, publisher of the weekly Rio Grande Sun – a fierce, unflinching watchdog of Española Valley politics and politicians – wrote when Montoya was honored by CNN that he and his partner Salvador Ruiz must be recognized for their work.

“With a comparatively minuscule amount of funding, they’ve accomplished more than the bureaucrat-heavy city of Española or Rio Arriba County programs, loaded with pork funding,” Trapp wrote. “They’ve touched more lives in significant ways than any federally funded boondoggle.”

Meanwhile, the chairman of the state Republican Party now says Montoya is unfit to hold public office and adds, “If you’re a public servant, you must be held to the highest standards.” That’s a hard argument to make when the party’s highest-ranking elected office-holder has been caught on tape bragging about assaulting women, faces multiple accusations of sexual abuse and paid off a porn star to keep quiet about their sexual liaison.

Democrats, it should be noted here, gave a pass to Bill Clinton for having adulterous sex with a young woman in the White House and other accusations of sexual improprieties, at least until the #MeToo movement came along.

However the report on Montoya’s sex films surfaced, its publication is certainly appropriate because it’s part of his record, his résumé. The only part of the Piñon Post article that Montoya seems to contest is the number of films he was in – he says it was only two. One wonders if Montoya should have broached the subject on his own as he made his entry into political life.

In any case, Montoya should stay the course as a candidate for the state House of Representatives and let voters decide if they care enough about his screen time in the 1980s to let it negate the good works he’s achieved in Rio Arriba since then.