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Utah Senate Prostitution Scandal Raises Fears of Hooker Honey Traps

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser speaks during the Utah Taxpayers Association 2018 Legislative Outlook Conference on Jan. 8, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Utah’s male state lawmakers have been told to never walk alone and to use a “buddy system” to avoid being snared by, possibly, politically motivated prostitutes.

“We feel like it’s appropriate at this time to put everybody on alert there may be people with mal-intent that are trying to, for money, try to put us in a situation,” Republican Senate President Wayne Niederhauser told reporters and Senate leadership on Feb. 9.

Niederhauser’s warning came after a call girl, Brie Taylor, told the Daily Mail that Utah state Rep. Jon Stanard (R) twice paid her for sex in Salt Lake City in 2017, while he was staying in taxpayer or campaign-funded hotel rooms.

But it wasn’t the Stanard scandal alone that prompted Niederhauser’s warning. He sounded the alarm because of something that happened to a fellow Republican, Sen. Evan Vickers, after the news about Stanard broke.

Vickers told reporters a woman tried to “honeypot” him in one of the hotels where Stanard allegedly had sex with Taylor.

“I opened the door and there was a young lady standing there and she said ‘Hi,’ and I said, ‘Hi, who are you?’ And she said, ‘I’m your date.’ I said, ‘No, you’re not.’ She said, ‘Yes, I’m your date.’”

“She was standing in front of the elevator and I said, ‘I don’t know who you are and what you’re doing here,’ and she said, ‘No, you don’t understand. I’m your date.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not, and walked back into the room,'” Vickers said.

Vickers said he locked the door and called a fellow legislator for help. He also called hotel security, who have been unable to find the woman. Vickers said hotel employees were reviewing security videotape.

As Deseret News columnist Jay Evensen speculated, it could be the young lady, who Vickers said looked to be in her thirties, just knocked on the wrong door, or maybe she was prospecting for a customer hoping to get lucky. But maybe, just maybe, she’d been hired by a media organization or some other group with nefarious intent, some mused.

“I believe that this was more of a setup and I also believe Sen. Vickers was caught by surprise,” House Majority Whip Francis Gibson (R) told Fox 13.

One unnamed lawmaker told UtahPolicy.com that he has seen women who are “dressed provocatively” hanging around the hotel where he stays while the legislature is in session, but he was never concerned until the Daily Mail ran the Stanard story.

It isn’t just GOP lawmakers who are concerned by the prospect of hookers prowling hotel hallways trying to ensnare honest politicians.

Senate Minority Leader Gene David (D) said he was “shocked.”

Sen. Niederhauser called the cops. He said Salt Lake City police and the Utah Highway Patrol were notified. He also tried to throw some cold water on Brie Taylor’s story of sex with Rep. Stanard because questions have been raised about whether she was paid by the Daily Mail.

“When people can make money like this it attracts malintent,” Niederhauser said.

Taylor told the Daily Mail that Stanard, who is married with three children and has voted for laws cracking down on prostitution and pornography, paid for oral, anal and vaginal sex, and even graphically described the positions he preferred.

Taylor said Stanard paid her $250 for each of the two one-hour sessions.

The Daily Mail story includes text messages exchanged by Stanard and Taylor that were sent from a phone number that matches the one on the Republican’s Utah House profile.

Stanard resigned from the Senate the night before the Daily Mail published the Brie Taylor story. He blamed “personal and family issues.”

“Last night Rep. Stanard unexpectedly resigned due to personal and family concerns,” House Speaker Greg Hughes (R) said in a statement. “We will honor his request for privacy, and ask that others do the same. We wish Jon and his family the best at this time.”

Utah House leadership has decided not to start an ethics investigation of Stanard’s conduct because no criminal charges have been filed against him.

However, Hughes’ chief of staff Greg Hartley told Fox 13 they might ask Stanard to repay any taxpayer money that was spent on the hotel rooms allegedly used for his romps with Ms. Taylor.

“If the allegations prove to be true, we may request he reimburse the State for any hotel payments that we can match up,” said Hartley.

And life goes on in the Utah Legislature. The newest member of the Republican caucus, Rep. Travis Seegmiller, is learning the ropes in Salt Lake City. He was chosen by local GOP delegates to replace Stanard.

Although he declined to comment on the Stanard sex scandal, Seegmiller said he wanted to follow the wishes of the Washington County Republican delegates who choose him to join the legislature and “bring a noble and dignified solution to the problem that we had.”