A woman who exchanged intimate messages with congressional candidate and State Senator Steve Montenegro stepped forward on Thursday.EXPAND
A woman who exchanged intimate messages with congressional candidate and State Senator Steve Montenegro stepped forward on Thursday.
Gage Skidmore

Here's What the Texts Between Steve Montenegro and Female Staffer Said

An attorney released text messages exchanged between his client, a former staffer in the Arizona Senate, and State Senator Steve Montenegro. In a statement, the woman identified herself as having been in a relationship with Montenegro that involved her sending the state senator photos of herself "in various states of undress."

Attorney Tom Ryan released copies of the text message exchange between Stephanie Holford, who says she started working as a digital coordinator in the state Senate in January 2017, when she met Montenegro. They communicated via text message often and occasionally late at night, and the exchanges grew more flirtatious.

"I felt comfortable enough with the relationship that I began to send pictures of myself in various states of undress. Senator Montenegro asked me to send them on Snap Chat instead," Holford said in a statement. "We engaged in sexual conversation about these pictures. These were detailed and intimate."

Below you can read a portion of the text message exchanges released by Ryan and Holford.

According to Ryan, Holford's ex-boyfriend stole images from her computer, where he accessed the messages between Holford and Montenegro via the Apple messaging app.

The ex then, according to Ryan, offered to show the messages to the media.

"I am considering what legal actions I may have for his involvement in this matter," Holford said in the statement.

New Times reported Holford's name and image Wednesday, which Ryan said prompted his client to step forward. Previously, Holford had been unidentified in reports that said Montenegro had received a topless photograph from a female legislative staffer.

"It was never my intent to make this affair public," Holford said in the statement, a copy of which her attorney provided to the media on Thursday. "But now that my name and image have been brought out in public I am taking accountability for my part in all of this. I apologize profusely for my involvement in this matter. I want to move on in my efforts to rebuild my life."

Montenegro, who is married and a minister, is currently running for the Congressional seat vacated by alleged sexual harasser Trent Franks, who resigned in December. The Republican primary in Arizona's Eighth Congressional District is on February 27.

Ryan characterized the relationship between Holford and Montenegro as one where the politician was "grooming" the staffer for a sexual relationship via the messages. Ryan said that Montenegro did not send any nude photos of himself.

Holford "was taken advantage of by one of the most powerful men sitting in the state Senate," Ryan said.

"In an effort to do her job she was communicating with Senator Steve Montenegro ... who started to make the affair not professional and very personal," Ryan added.

Montenegro has called the reports "tabloid trash." In an interview with the conservative Washington Examiner on Wednesday, Montenegro gave an unequivocal denial.

“I want you to know I did not have any inappropriate relationships with this woman,” Montenegro told the Examiner . “At no time have I been inappropriately involved with any staffer — nor have I ever. I have not solicited inappropriate material via text message or any other message.”

However, in the same interview, Montenegro confirmed that the texts quoted in news reports were his.

The messages between Montenegro and Holford discuss into the state senator's work in the legislature, his travel and hobbies such as running and his taste in music.

In one exchange on November 30, 2017, Holford sent Montenegro an image, identified by 12 News as a topless selfie, followed by a message: "You have to delete these." Montenegro replies, "Snap."

On December 7, the day Franks announced his resignation, Montenegro asked Holford to call him. "It's crazy stuff happening," he wrote in a text. "Did someone call you out?" Holford replied.

"Nope." Montenegro said.

"Are you afraid someone might?" Holford asked. "Just lining my ducks in order," Montenegro wrote back. Holford assured him, "Yeah you would never ever have to worry about me. So I hope that puts you at some ease."



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