CA District 26 Congressional candidate’s movie career more controversial than thought

By George Miller

Antonio Sabato, Jr.

Ventura County Republicans in the know are abuzz about a CA District 26 Congressional candidate’s controversial movie career. Antonio Sabato Jr. emigrated to the US when he was a boy, went to Beverly Hills HS and that’s about as far as he went academically. But he made a successful career for himself as a soap opera star, underwear model and as we’re finding out- a gay pornstar. But few have seen or appreciate his work. He freely admits that he has struggled with drugs and has done some things that he wouldn’t do now, which we won’t get into here, but has reformed. He says he’s straight and relationships seem to support that. Questions of electability inevitably arise.

We had no idea of this and thought there were just a couple of “softcore” movies. A recent anonymous tip awakened us to the situation, which even then didn’t seem very serious because the worst items seem to be blocked in Google searches. When we told our source it didn’t seem that bad, we quickly received a page of links that we unfortunately can’t unsee the contents of now. We won’t list them here, but will respond to qualified inquiries. Suffice to say that they are hardcore deviant porn and that Mr. Sabato and his attributes are featured in them.

On the campaign trail, Sabato looks very presentable, fit, intelligent, is a good speaker, eliciting positive responses from audiences and expresses his gratitude for American Citizenship and the benefits it confers. He has only expressed very general campaign platform positions so far.

Announced CD26 candidate Jeff Burum provided this response to our inquiry:

As a life-long member of the Republican Party, it is my obligation to request Antonio Sabato Jr. suspend his campaign.  His participation as a porn-star along with alleged drug addictions is and will continue to be an embarrassment to the Republican Party.  The Hollywood and DC culture is clearly inconsistent with American family values. We cannot afford to allow a newly self-designated Republican to hurt the party.

-Jeffery D. Burum


Rafael Dagnesses, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep Julia Brownley in the 2016 election and also ran in the 2014 primary, seemed to appreciate the implications of the situation. He told us that he is out of town working on a national security issue and declined to comment for this article.


Republican women feting Sabato Saturday night

We received an ad for The Conejo Valley Republican Women’s Federated Christmas/Chanukah party for 12-9-17, where comedian Evan Sayet and CD26 candidate Antonio Sabato, Jr. will be featured.

Knowing what we learned, we called Kerry Nelson, the current President and asked why Sabato was so featured, given the circumstances. She said that multiple members had complained., but that the President-Elect, Tamara Howard, insisted upon continuing with that, even after County Chair Pamela Faulkner recommended against it.  Howard takes office that day. Nelson was not initially aware of the full nature of the videos either. We also contacted Betsy Speicher, who said she wasn’t aware of the full seriousness of the situation. She told us the organization’s bylaws would not allow them to to cancel the gig, “because we have to treat all Republicans (candidates) equally.” One of the ads we received said that Sabato will install the new officers, too.


Tony Strickland featuring Sabato on 12-12-17

We heard that former CA Senate Minority Leader and CD26/CD25 candidate Tony Strickland will be doing a breakfast “campaign brief” for Sabato on December 12, from 0730-0930 at the North Ranch Country Club in Westlake. Reservations can be made at 323-850-0072 with Charles Moran. Yes, the same Charles Moran of the Log Cabin Republicans.


From Mr. Sabato

Antonio Sabato, Jr. called me up on Tuesday morning in response to a general inquiry for an interview. He seemed to know where I was headed before we even talked. I mentioned the videos and why I thought it was a problem.

He responded that he doesn’t regret anything he has done, that the videos were done 20 years ago and won awards, that he had his reasons for all actions at the time he did them. He said some things he did he wouldn’t do now. Sabato said that he was an actor for 30 years, did a lot of projects, a lot of roles, all sorts of roles and many directors.

He told me that the gay roles were not hard core, not “full sex.” I pointed out that the videos I saw looked otherwise. He said he only made two such videos, adding that it was part  of his acting career and that he wasn’t ashamed of it. He said “I’m not Jesus.”

Later on Tuesday Sabato had a telecon with another group. He reportedly told them that he had never done porn, that this was a smear job and he knew who was behind it. He tried to define porn as full frontal nudity, penetration, etc. Last we heard, he was to examine the links sent to him by one of the group and answer back, whether he believed it was really him, whether it had been edited, modified, etc. (there are multiple images/videos on multiple sites).

We need to keep in mind that he says he is on a better path now. He went out of his way to speak up for Donald Trump when almost no one else would, knowingly incurring the wrath of the Hollywood crowd, who he depends upon for his livelihood. He says that he has been blacklisted by directors, dumped by his manager and agent. Regardless of your own political views, these are not the actions of a cynical, weak coward.

I did ask him for a statement on how he has moved beyond all this and where he is now. He declined to answer immediately, but wanted to schedule an interview on this. That will likely be in a  article resulting from a future interview.


One of VC’s senior statesmen weighs in

Retired Congressmen Elton Gallegly was the longest serving congressman in the district’s history, rising up from Simi Valley Councilman and Mayor. He is often asked for advice and support even years after “retirement.” in 2010. Unlike many of the others, he was not shy about commenting on the record.

When I mentioned Mr. Sabato to him, he said he had already written him off for lying to him in their first meeting. According to Gallegly, Sabato told him that he was the only candidate endorsed by the Republican Party and that they had said he was the best candidate. Gallegly replied that the party does not endorse primary candidates. Sabato responded by naming specific people who he said endorse him.  But, in fairness, there may have been some confusion on Sabato’s part on exactly what constitutes an endorsement. According to Gallegly, “endorse” means to recommend a candidate wholly and exclusively and to support and raise money for them.

When I described the videos to Gallegly and asked what his thoughts were and the probable impact on the electorate he quipped: “well it probably won’t be a plus.”  He didn’t want to be burdened by the actual video links.

He then went on to complain about the poor election performance of GOP candidates following him. When I pointed out the major redistricting and demographic changes, he asserted that the impact of that was far less than the swing in votes from when he ran.

He said that incumbent Brownley is the weakest Democrat in the state and most “ineffective” in Congress.


Some leading Republicans would not be quoted for this article

Some leading local Republicans contacted professed not to know the full extent of what we had seen and most declined to comment for this article. Those included Simi Valley Mayor Bob Huber, Dean Kunicki, Consultant Stephen Frank, Don Otto, 2016 candidate Rafael Dagnesses. Central Committee official John Andersen had not spoken with us by publication time. We also queried incumbent Democrat Julia Brownley- her office hadn’t responded by publication time.


Does GOP vet candidates?

In a word, no, at least not formally. Anyone registered for a year or more can run as a Republican for an office which that candidate is otherwise eligible for. Rules vary by office and jurisdiction. Once a candidate starts running, the California Republican Party and its county level units, known as “central committees”, do not have any formal vetting process for candidates until after the primary election. Ventura County Republican Chair Mike Osborn confirmed that with us this week

When I asked him what his/party’s position was on the Sabato situation, his response was “I hate to get in the middle of this…. the electorate will sort it out.” When I asked him if Sabato was electable, he answered: “I don’t know” and that the electorate will sort it out- or words to that effect. He later added: “having morality police is problematic.”

One reason that this policy exists is that there have been abuses in the past when political parties were partial to one candidate, creating huge advantages for the favored. An excellent example of that is the Democratic National Committee’s now well-documented one-sided support of Hillary Clinton, to the exclusion of other candidates, especially Bernie Sanders.

We were told by California Republican Conservatives VP Celeste Greig that GOP will be endorsing for statewide office starting this coming election. Some local Republican groups will be endorsing for local elections in the future.

We understand that Sabato has never been in politics before, has not been voting, nor has he been registered as a Republican long. Sabato has indicated that he was unhappy with what was going on and thought that he could contribute via running for office and serving.

Multiple people told us that Osborn personally favors Sabato, although we have seen no evidence of that. Fair enough, if he doesn’t utilize party influence/resources for this.

So, who vets candidates? Unless other candidates do “opposition research,” or news media and voter groups or other associations do– no one.

Looking at all of the politicians involved in various abuse accusations lately, it looks like the Democrats have a vetting gap as well.

So several questions occur:

  1. Do you think this is true? Do such videos speak for themselves?
  2. Would this disqualify him in the minds of some or most voters? How about you?
  3. If true, has he truly reformed? What evidence is there of that?
  4. Would voters accept an apology and sincere rehabilitation?


George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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Steve Q
Steve Q
3 years ago

I would say yes the videos speak for themselves,Yes it would disqualify him in many voters minds I don’t think that would disqualify him for me but not being registered and not voting is a big problem for me. No evidence what so ever. No apology would be acceptable for me because that would mean he bent over and succumbed to the pressure and I could never vote for some one who changed his beliefs for the crowd.

Mark Savalla
Mark Savalla
3 years ago

I congratulate George on a fair and articulate explanation of a sensitive problem. Kinda like the Judge Moore problem. I believe that more time is needed for Sabato to respond to these negative facts which are coming to light. A definition of pornography by an expert would be helpful.

William Hicks
William Hicks
3 years ago

Much of this proves that the republican party in California is on a disconnect with the conservative values of many of those that vote republican candidates. You can bet that Tony Strickland, et al, are part of the problem.

William Hicks
William Hicks
3 years ago

The only positive aspect, that I can see in Sabato running against Brownley, is that a porn star might fit in the liberal culture of California these days.