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State officials look into claims that representative paid for sex

UTAH STATE CAPITOL – Strong allegations from a British newspaper have elections officials in Utah looking into the campaign contribution records of Rep. John Stanard, who suddenly resigned from his seat, yesterday.

The Daily Mail published statements from a woman named Brie Taylor, who claims Stanard paid her $250 for sex in downtown Salt Lake City, twice, in 2017.  This sparked Elections Director Justin Lee to look at the paperwork.  Whether the claims are true or bogus, Lee says, “Any time we see a headline where campaign finances may be implicated, we’re going to take a look at it.  We’re not saying he is or he’s not [misusing donations], or that we’re doing any investigation.  We’re just looking.”

If someone is found to have used campaign funds for “personal use,” Lee says statutes say the person would have to pay the money back, then pay a fine on top of that.  However, if the money was used to make an illegal purchase, a criminal investigation would be handled by a separate agency.  “All of the campaign reports, they’re all online.  So, we’re not seeing anything different than anyone else could look at.  An investigator could be more than free to look at that, themselves,” Lee says.

Stanard had said he was resigning to spend more time with a terminally ill parent, before the prostitution accusations came out.  Stanard’s attorney, Wally Bugden, issued a statement, saying, “Given the current climate in this country with misconduct allegations and the way things are happening in the media right now, there isn’t any explanation that my client could give that would overcome the shadow of these allegations. He has resigned his office.”

The AP is reporting the House officials say Stanard’s state-issued cell phone no longer has his text messages, and they’re not sure who erased them.

(Photo Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, file)