Steve Montenegro calls accusations of inappropriate text messages ‘false tabloid trash'

PHOENIX - A West Valley congressional candidate is calling reports of sexually inappropriate texts with a staffer "false tabloid trash."

Rumors of the texts between Steve Montenegro and a female Arizona Senate employee swirled in Republican circles for weeks. 

ABC15 has confirmed a third party obtained the texts and at least one photo. The Senate staffer works in an entry-level position. 

Montenegro is a former state legislator, minister and husband. He is one of 12 Republicans running in the special election to replace Trent Franks in Congressional District 8. The district covers Glendale, Sun City, Peoria, and other West Valley cities. The primary election is on Tuesday. 

Franks resigned in December after he was accused of asking staffers to become a surrogate mother.

Montenegro is considered one of the front-runners in the race, and he has been endorsed by both Trent Franks and Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson.

"The media wants to drag is down with just a week to go, but we are not going to dignify this false tabloid trash with any further response," Montenegro said in a written statement Tuesday night.

Montenegro was a no-show at campaign events in the last week, including a candidate forum Tuesday.

No one answered the door at Montenegro's home Friday when ABC15 reached out to him for comment Friday.

Meanwhile, one of the other Republican front-runners in the race to replace former Rep. Trent Franks, former state Sen. Debbie Lesko, is under fire for transferring $50,000 from her old state campaign fund to an independent group backing her congressional election bid.

Lovas said he filed complaints Wednesday with the FEC and the state attorney general for Lesko's transfers.

Lesko transferred $50,000 from her old state Senate campaign fund to an independent group that is backing her congressional campaign. Debbie Lesko's campaign consultant supplied a legal opinion that called the transfer above-board.

The transfer was first reported by an affiliate of the Arizona Capitol Times and disclosed in a Federal Election Commission filing earlier this week.

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