Referendum petitions submitted by anti-sex work crusaders tied to brothel kingpin Dennis Hof‘s political opponent could put Nevada brothels out of business and cost local taxpayers millions.
There are currently around 22 active, legal brothels in Nevada, dispersed among seven counties. Anti-prostitution activists are targeting brothels in Lyon County—home to the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, The Love Ranch, the Sagebrush Ranch, and the Kit Kat Guest Ranch—and Nye County. Nye is headquarters to five legal brothels, including three owned by Dennis Hof, who is currently challenging state Assemblyman James Oscarson in the Republican primary.
If brothels are banned in the two counties, eight of the state’s 21 brothels would be forced to close.
“People think this is really the right time to turn the page on industries from Nevada’s past and really enter the new Nevada and all the opportunity and new identity that our state’s beginning to embrace,” said Jason Guinasso, an attorney who drafted the referendums with the vile “No Little Girl” campaign, which is funded and administered by the End Trafficking and Prostitution Political Action Committee.
No Little Girl asserts that all paid sex constitutes violence against women. The women working at Nevada’s brothels disagree.
While not a single peer-reviewed study backs up his beliefs, Guinasso said claims women who are involved in Nevada’s sex industry are victims of exploitation. “Women are there either because of financial duress or a drug addiction, or some pimp is pushing them in there,” Guinasso said.
Financial duress? LOL Name me an employed working-class person who doesn’t go to his or her job because they need the money.
The Nye County referendum needs 1,963 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot in Nye, compared with 3,355 needed in Lyon. If enough signatures are garnered, the issue will appear on the November ballot, unless county commissioners in each county vote to remove the ordinance beforehand.
The deadline to collect enough signatures is June 15. County commissioners in each county will decide in July whether to strike down the ordinance or leave it up to voters.
Guinasso, the managing partner of law firm Hutchison & Steffen’s Northern Nevada offices in Reno, said a group called CABINC, or Citizens Against Brothels in Nye County, contacted him after the news of Lyon County’s petition.
While many of its supporters believe that the majority of sex workers are “exploited and abused and trafficked through those brothels,” referendum proponents also cite the potential of attracting new companies that might not have considered the two counties because of the brothels, he said.
Dennis Hof, who owns the four brothels in Lyon County and two of the four brothels in Nye County, contends that the referendums are tied to his Republican primary race against James Oscarson for the Assembly seat in District 36.
“It’s all politically motivated, there’s no question about it,” Hof said. “I’m running against the establishment; the establishment is dirty and will do anything to win.”
Oscarson has denied that he is directly involved in either effort.
However, founding partner of Hutchison & Steffen, Nevada’s Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison is a friend of James Oscarson who just endorsed him politically!
Hof touts the economic benefits that brothels bring to the counties. He said he employs 540 sex workers and more than 125 other brothel employees.
Each sex worker pays $560 a year for licensing fees, money that goes back into the community. And the brothels’ own license fees pays for emergency medical services and helped pay for a clinic.
Hof’s brothels have raised money for community organizations and other causes, he said.
“There’s a lot of research that points out that prostitution is an important part of the economy and helps provide a stable base for us to grow as a state,” sex work scholar and UNLV professor Barb Brents. “While it’s a very small industry in Nevada, it has helped make the state what it is today. Even our motto, ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ rests on this notion. Sex is a pretty big deal here.”
‘It’s not going to go away’
Hof said legal brothels are a safer alternative to illegal sex work; customers know that the women have had background checks, are fingerprinted, are of age, and live and work in the community by choice.
Making brothels illegal doesn’t mean prostitution will disappear, he said.
“It’s not gonna go away. It’s just whether it’s in the hands of professionals and the county benefits from it financially, or do you want it in the hands of the criminals?” Hof said.
“The brothels are a bit like Walmart and church: Nobody forces you to go, but when you need something, you know where they’re at,” he said. “Live and let live. Don’t try to impose your views on other people.”
Despite a recent blizzard of graphic, sex-fueled attack ads and mailers from incumbent James Oscarson’s campaign, his challenger, Hof, now leads in the race according to a new poll.
The independent poll conducted by SoCo Strategies on May 3-6, 2018 of likely Republican primary voters shows Hof leading Oscarson 33-29 percent, with 5 percent going to Joe Bradley and 33 percent still “undecided.”
The margin of error is +/- 4.95 percent.
“Historically, over 80 percent of incumbents get re-elected,” Hof concluded. “But Mr. Oscarson is a serial tax-hiker who broke his word. I won’t. . . . And that’s why we’re in a strong position to win an historic victory against a double-talking, tax-hiking incumbent.”
The primary election is on June 12, three days before the referendum signature-gathering deadline.