Feb. 16, 2018
Best of the States
APNewsBreak: Lawmaker accused of meeting with prostitute used taxpayer money for hotel
Allegations that a lawmaker had been trysting with a prostitute while the Utah Legislature was in session rocked the state’s politics. The former lawmaker who had previously pushed for stricter laws cracking down on prostitution went into hiding. His attorney refused comment. The House speaker washed his hands of the scandal, and the prostitute was no longer talking, having sold the story to the tabloid site dailymail.com.
Political reporter Michelle Price needed another way into the story, so she started asking questions around the capitol.
She made a key discovery while looking at the screen grabs of the texts in the tabloid story: The dates lined up with the legislative session. She knew the lawmaker from southern Utah didn’t commute to the Legislature and would be staying in hotels while in Salt Lake City.
She started asking tougher questions. Was taxpayer money used to reimburse the lawmaker for hotel rooms where he met the prostitute? Now she had the attention of officials in state government.
Finally came the APNewsBreak: Price exclusively reported that the lawmaker used taxpayer money to book at least two hotel rooms he is accused of using to meet with the prostitute.
For determination and a commitment to exploring all angles even when the main characters weren’t talking, Price wins this week’s Best of the States.