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Utah taxpayers reimbursed GOP lawmaker for hotels allegedly used for trysts with prostitute

The taxpayers of Utah paid for hotel rooms allegedly used by a Republican state lawmaker last year for trysts with a prostitute, The Associated Press reports.

Earlier this week, state Rep. John Stanard from St. George abruptly resigned from office, citing "personal and family concerns"; he told AP Wednesday that his father has terminal cancer and he wants to spend more time with him. On Thursday, Britain's Daily Mail published an interview with a prostitute named Brie Taylor who claimed Stanard, a married Mormon father who last year voted to make state prostitution laws stricter, paid her for sex on two occasions.

Taylor shared text messages she said Stanard sent her from his state-issued cellphone, which set up encounters at two hotels in Salt Lake City. Utah House Chief of Staff Greg Hartley told AP that Stanard was reimbursed for hotel stays in Salt Lake City in June and August 2017, when he was in town for legislative meetings; the dates and hotel names correspond with the text messages published by the Daily Mail.

Republican House Speaker Greg Hughes said an ethics investigation can't be launched, since Stanard is no longer a lawmaker, and he's not sure if text messages can be recovered from Stanard's state-issued phone, which he gave back wiped clean. "If there has been an abuse of public funds or if public funds were used in a way that's inappropriate," the House will ask Stanard to return the money he received, Hughes told AP. Stanard's attorney declined to comment.