Utah Rep. Jon Stanard, accused of meeting call girl for sex, used public money for hotel rooms

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Jon Stanard, R-St. George, in the Utah House of Representatives, Wednesday, January 28, 2015.

A British newspaper reported Thursday that Rep. Jon Stanard, R-St. George, resigned abruptly Tuesday after he met a Salt Lake City call girl twice for sex, and it released racy texts that it says he sent to her.

The Daily Mail of London said call girl Brie Taylor alleges Stanard paid her for sex during two business trips to Salt Lake City in 2017. Taylor asserts he paid her $250 for each of the one-hour sessions in June and August — on dates when the Legislature held interim meetings.

Stanard is married and voted for stricter laws against pornography. He also said on his website — which has since been deleted — “I am a strong advocate for conservative family values. I am pro life, as well as for traditional marriage.”

Taylor alleges Stanard first approached her March 7, 2017 — near the end of last year’s general session of the Legislature.

He allegedly wrote: “Looking at your website. Can you meet?”

In a second text he added: ‘Would need to be tonight. Only in town a little. Anytime. Can do in or out. At hotel in downtown SL.”

They exchanged a string of messages but Taylor was unavailable because her 10-year-old son was sick.

He messaged her again the following month but she was again unavailable, and they met for the first time at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott Hotel in Downtown Salt Lake City on June 20.

Taylor said: “I already knew who he was because I screen all my clients using a phone number service and I Googled him.

“He opened the door and he was very nice. He was a gentleman.

“We chatted just briefly and then I got changed out of what I was wearing into lingerie.

“Then the adult stuff started to happen.”

She said she had researched who he was online, and they talked about his work as a representative.

“He said he comes up to Salt Lake a lot and he would like to see me again. He said he never does this sort of stuff in St. George because it is really culturally strict down there.”

According to the newspaper, the escort of three years, who has appeared in porn films, says Stanard returned on a business trip that summer and they met at the same hotel on Aug. 22.

“He doesn’t drink so we didn’t do anything like that,” she said, “but during that session they were trying to pass medical marijuana so we talked about that.”

Stanard resigned Tuesday evening, and his resignation was announced to the House on Wednesday after a closed-door House Republican caucus. No explanations were given.

Stanard on Wednesday said in a text to The Associated Press that he hoped to spend more time with his father, who is suffering from cancer.

The Daily Mail said that Stanard’s attorney, Walter Bugden, told it, “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.”

Stanard did not immediately respond to a text sent by The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday seeking comment.

Taylor said via text message the story was “exclusive” with a reporter working for a news wire, referred all questions to the reporter, Shanti Das, and didn’t respond to further questions.

Das said The Tribune could buy the story, photos and texts, but declined to say whether Taylor was paid for the information.

“That really isn’t relevant,” Das said. “We’re sending out the story on her behalf.”

Of note, Taylor on Wednesday did respond to a Tweet by a Fox 13 news reporter about Stanard’s resignation. She posted an emoji with a hand over the chin showing skepticism. The Tweet has since been removed.

Greg Hartley, chief of staff for the Utah House, said that because Stanard no longer is a member, legislators will not conduct an ethics investigation. But the House is looking at whether hotel stipends given to out-of-town members or his state-issued cellphone were improperly used.

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

The Salt Lake Tribune found that Stanard paid $225 to Fairfield Inn, using campaign funds, on Sept. 22. That is not one of the days listed by Taylor; it is a payment date and not necessarily the date of a stay. Utah law bans any personal use of campaign funds.

Hartley said legislative leaders plan no comment on Stanard’s situation. House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, on Wednesday announced the resignation in a brief statement that listed no reasons for Standard’s departure and said he would respect Stanard’s request for privacy.

Hartley told The Associated Press in a text message that Stanard, who resigned Tuesday night, was reimbursed for hotel stays in Salt Lake City in June and August 2017 when Stanard was attending legislative meetings at the Capitol.

The dates and hotel names correspond with text messages reported in the Daily Mail.

“It looks like they were legislative days,” Republican House Speaker Greg Hughes told The Associated Press on Thursday night.

Hughes was caught briefly by reporters Thursday. When he was asked if he knew about the allegations about the call girl before the resignation, he said he had nothing further to add and noted that Standard is no longer a House member.

Not long afterward, security officers said the speaker had ordered them to remove reporters from the House chamber and a nearby hallway, where they are normally allowed access to talk to members.

Hartley later called that a misunderstanding and said reporters’ access has been restored.

Before reporters were asked to leave, House Majority Whip Frances Gibson, R-Mapleton, said he had no response other than to express love for Stanard’s family, while adding that he cares for him. Most members declined comment, other than to express surprise or sadness for Stanard and his family.

“Obviously this wasn’t done here or around the Capitol. It was done in his personal life somewhere,” said Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy. “People have their personal lives. You’ve gotta be careful when you’re a legislator.”