Racy texts, topless photo, dubious cash transfer shadow House candidates

PHOENIX — Two former Republican Arizona lawmakers who are leading candidates to fill a vacant U.S. House seat are embroiled in controversy as Tuesday’s special primary election looms. Former state Sen. Steve Montenegro reportedly received racy text messages from a Senate staffer who isn’t his wife. Former state Sen. Debbie Lesko is under fire for transferring $50,000 from her old state Senate campaign fund to an independent group backing her congressional election bid.

The Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV 12 News both reported they reviewed messages which included a topless photo the unidentified woman sent to Montenegro. He called the allegations “tabloid trash.”

Lesko’s campaign calls her cash transfer legal.

The race is to replace U.S. Rep. Trent Franks in the 8th Congressional District. He resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations in December.

CBS affiliate KPHO reported that new finance reports show Montenegro has raised more than $232,000 over the past month; Lesko has raised about $197,000.

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