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."
In a sign of increasing partisan hostilities, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee plan to construct a wall a physical partition separating Republican and Democratic staff members in the committee's secure spaces, according to multiple committee sources. It's expected to happen this spring. For now, some Republican committee members deny knowing anything about it, while strongly suggesting the division is the brainchild of the committee's chairman, Devin Nunes, R-California. "I'm not part of that decision," said Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas. "You've got to talk to Devin. I don't know what they're trying to do one way or the other." "I swear to God I didn't know that," said Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Florida, when asked about the plan. While acknowledging a wall might not be constructive for the committee's work, he said, "The level of trust and the level of everything down there is it's poison. It's absolute poison down there."
A contractor who was awarded a massive contract to provide millions of meals to Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria drastically underdelivered, according to a New York Times investigation. Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur and self-described government contractor who owns Tribute Contracting LLC, was awarded the $156 million contract by FEMA on Oct. 3 to provide 30 million self-heating meals to Puerto Rico, but only followed through on 50,000. Brown, the sole employee of her company, hired an 11-person wedding catering company and a Texas nonprofit that had shipped food to a Houston food bank during Hurricane Harvey to provide the meals.
The Defense Logistics Agency in the Pentagon has reportedly "lost track" of hundreds of millions of dollars that it has spent, according to a Politico report about an internal audit. Accountants from Ernst & Young are said to have conducted the audit and found the agency did not properly document more than $800 million in construction projects -- and it's only one of the audit's examples of a lack of receipts and unreliable financial tracking system. The documents, according to Politico, renew questions about whether the Department of Defense as a bureau can handle managing its $700 billion annual budget, which President Trump has called to greatly increase.
Year after year, southern states consistently rank among the worst in the U.S. for health and wellness. This is not a new trend. The rankings have changed little over the last quarter century. What's causing residents of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana and other southern states to live such short lives, while experiencing higher rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease? A July study found a 20-year difference in life expectancy by county, with most of the counties with lower life expectancy located in the Southeast. The life expectancy gap is also growing year to year.