A coalition of faith groups and anti-sex trafficking activists in Nevada are pushing to get two anti-prostitution measures on the November ballot.
At the same time, one of the state’s most famous sex-sellers is running for a seat in the state legislature.
Dennis Hof owns about six brothels in the state and said Nevada “is the last of the live-and-let-live states” and was built on “gaming, liquor, girls, and mining.”
“It’s awful that people would come in and try to change that culture, that they want to inflict their moral values on the rest of us,” he said.
Hof is running against incumbent Assembly member James Oscarson of Pahrump in a Republican primary Tuesday.
Oscarson and Hof faced each other in 2016, but Hof ran as a Libertarian to challenge the incumbent that year. Oscarson won with 61 percent of the vote.
Nevada is the only state that allows for legal prostitution.
About 20 brothels currently operate there although Nevada does not publicize how many brothels are open.
Most owners keep a much lower profile than Hof who has written a book titled The Art of the Pimp and calls himself the “Trump of Pahrump,” after the county where he is running for office.
Karen Cohen lives in Pahrump county where there are four brothels. She told the Associated Press it is “an embarrassment that we are one of the very few spots in the very United States that tolerates legal prostitution.”
She and attorney Jason Guinasso are just a few of the people who are pushing to get the anti-brothel measures on the November ballot.
Guinasso and others involved in the campaign believe many women aren’t there by choice but have only landed in the sex “industry” because they’ve grown up in poverty, been victims of sexual abuse, or were sent to work there by an illegal pimp.
Hof is predicting that the measure will fail. He said if brothels were banned, illegal prostitution will flourish.
Guinasso said that even if the measures don’t pass, he’ll consider it a victory because Nevada residents will be rethinking whether the industry belongs in the Silver State, particularly in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
If passed, the referendum would ban brothels in two of the seven Nevada counties.