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Tempest in a (decaffeinated) teapot

Bringing those big city ways back to Happy Valley

The two womens' car is parked in a corner parking lot in the city's red light district. A man pulls up next to them, says "Hi, honey" to the one closest to him, and asks what they are doing.

"Not much. What are you doing?"

"Just looking for some fun."

"Like what?" the woman asks.

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The man asks if they are undercover police officers. They say "No," and smile. He describes what he has in mind.

One of them says "O.K. How much do you want to spend?"

"It depends on what I get."

"Anything you want."

"O.K. Sounds good."

"How much is it worth to you?"

"I usually go about $20."

They tell the man to follow them to a hotel several blocks away and drive off. He follows their car for a couple of blocks, but doesn't reach the hotel. A patrol car stops him and arrests him for soliciting sex acts from the two police decoys who reported this version of their conversation at the station that night.

Two guilty verdicts later, Representative Allan T. Howe (D-Utah) is still running for reelection in Utah's Second Congressional District. That district includes all of Salt Lake City, but for a while after Howe's arrest June 12 the only Howe campaign poster in town was on a corner of West Second South: some pranksters placed it across the street from the parking lot where Howe first met the two women.

Howe admits that he spoke to the two women, but claims that he was "lured" to the scene of the incident by a man who pretended to be asking him to a political gathering. He denies making some of the statements attributed to him in the decoys' story, claiming that he was only chatting with the women while he waited to be taken to the political meeting.

That was about the extent of Howe's story for several months--his lawyer told him not to comment on the case until the trial. Howe's silence did nothing to abate the political conflagration his arrest ignited. Senator Frank Moss (D-Utah) met for an hour with Howe and his wife and then implied to reporters that he had asked Howe to withdraw from his congressional race before the state's Democratic nominating convention so his name could be replaced on the November ballot. Salt Lake's evening paper, owned by the Mormon Church, called for Howe's immediate resignation. The editorial said Utahns hold their officials to higher standards than the rest of the country, adding that if Wayne Hayes had been from Utah he would have long ago been forced to resign.

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