Roger Montoya, a disgraced New Mexico state House District 40 candidate, admitted this week to performing in multiple pornographic films in the 1980s after the Piñon Post first reported on it last week.
Now, Montoya faces more questions about his ethics, particularly regarding his tactics to raise money for his New Mexico House bid. According to a former donor to the non-profit 501(c)(3) charity he co-founded and is currently the “Artistic Director” for, Moving Arts Española, Montoya appears to have been soliciting political campaign contributions from donors to Moving Arts Española.
The former donor, Larry Sonntag of Albuquerque, said Montoya contacted him at his home on July 30th, 2020, thanking him for a $400 donation to his campaign, which Sonntag explained that it must have been a mistake.
In a later August 3, 2020 call, Sonntag said that Montoya “had confirmed a contribution from me and my wife to his campaign. I told him that was not true and he then acknowledge[d] the charity donor list may have been used.”
The transcript of the call is as follows:
Montoya: You and your wife did contribute to the campaign. I think it was $400 in the primary. I’m confused.
Sonntag: No, You’re saying we gave $400 to your political campaign?
Sonntag: Okay, well yeah, I need to see that because that is not accurate.
Montoya: Okay, well, maybe there’s a crossover somehow, which is unfortunate because this is the kind of thing that needs to not happen, and that could be on us.
Sonntag: Well, that’s why I’m calling because we have given money to Moving Arts Espanñola.
Montoya: Right, and so there may be a confusion there in the lists is what you’re getting at.
Sonntag: I am, and that’s a problem because there should be no confusion between a charitable donation list and your campaign list.
Montoya: Yes, I hear you loud and clear.
A subsequent email from Montoya to Sonntag confirms that Montoya used his charitable 501(c)(3) donor list to solicit funds for his political campaign.
The email reads as follows:
“Our records show that your contribution of $100 was received on 05-30-2017 to Moving Arts Española, a 501c3 charitable organization.
I want to apologize for the delay in clarifying the unfortunate mistake we made in listing your name on a potential donor list for my 2020 political campaign for State House District 40. My interns projected an ask amount of $400 and that explains the mixup and the call I made to you.
I assure you that this list has been corrected, that funds in your name were not used in my political campaign which began in March 2020, and no reporting has been made to that end. Also, please know you have been removed from my potential donor campaign list.”
The news did not sit well with Sonntag, who said, “Using a donation to his charitable organization as an invitation to seek a political campaign donation is not only unethical, mixing charity and political work is contrary to federal and state laws governing charities being involved in a political campaign.”
“A complaint has been filed against Moving Arts Espanola/Roger Montoya with the IRS and NM Attorney General’s Office who regulates charities in NM based on a 501c3 charity being involved in a political campaign,” Sonntag said.
The IRS complaint was filed by Sonntag on September 15, 2020, specifying in the nature of the violation that Moving Arts Española “is involved in a political campaign.” The complaint with New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office was also filed on September 15, 2020. Sonntag acknowledged that the information he submitted is “true and accurate to the best of [his] knowledge during the process of filing the complaints.”
Sonntag also says he “contacted the President of the Board of Directors, Steve Cox, for Moving Arts Espanola, [gave] him the complaint, and he determined that Roger Montoya had done nothing wrong according to their donor relations protocol.”
Sonntag commented, “What if the mega-churches in ABQ started using their donor list to solicit campaign contributions for members of their church who are running for office? The fact that Moving Arts Española is okay with Roger Montoya doing this stuns me. They are a great organization, doing great work and shouldn’t have anyone, not even the founder of the charity, muddying the lines between charity and politics.”
No known action has been taken by the Attorney General’s office or the U.S. Treasury Department on the matter.
According to an Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) request from the New Mexico Department of Taxation and Revenue, Montoya appears to have lied on a candidate survey from the Albuquerque Journal claiming he had never been subject to any state or federal tax liens. He responded, “No” to the following question in the questionnaire:
Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
However, a document provided by the New Mexico Department of Taxation and Revenue paints a different picture. According to the document, on January 16, 2019, Montoya had paid off a tax lien for an undisclosed amount filed on November 6, 2017.
The official state documents do not add up to the answer Montoya gave on the Albuquerque Journal questionnaire.
The multiple very recent instances of unethical and likely illegal activities by Montoya give more insight into the candidate’s moral compass and raise questions as to why he has not disclosed to the press accurate information and why he has solicited donations from lists of charitable donors to his tax-exempt non-profit organization. These revelations also help further paint a picture of how Montoya has evolved from the time he did pornography in the 1980s up until this point.
Montoya’s campaign was contacted on multiple occasions for comment but has not yet responded to the Piñon Post’s requests. This report will be updated if Mr. Montoya wishes to provide a statement.
Note: all documents have been redacted of private information, such as contact numbers and addresses as well as personal identification numbers to protect the privacy of Mr. Montoya and Mr. Sonntag.