Assembly candidate Dennis Hof loses Nye County brothel license; commissioners cite unresolved violations
Nye County authorities say workers at Republican Assembly candidate Dennis Hof’s Love Ranch Brothel surrendered their work cards, brothel license and liquor license “without a problem” Tuesday after commissioners voted not to renew the permits.
Commissioners had cited a late renewal application, as well as three violations over the past two years that had apparently not all been resolved, as the reason for denying the licenses. Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said there was some initial resistance when she sought to enforce the vote.
“The Executive Manager for Dennis Hof contacted the Sheriff and indicated that they would not allow the Nye County Sheriff's Deputies on the premises. Therefore, a warrant was submitted and granted by Pahrump Justice of the Peace Margaret Whittaker to enter and retrieve the licenses and the work cards,” Wehrly said in a statement. “Upon arrival, the Brothel personnel opened their doors to the Nye County Sheriff's Deputies, surrendered the licenses and the work cards without a problem. There was no confrontation on either side and we were informed an appeal will be forthcoming.”
Eighteen people were licensed to work at the Love Ranch, including 11 prostitutes and seven other staffers, according to Nye County spokesman Arnold Knightly. The revocation means Hof no longer has any licensed brothels in Nye County.
It wasn’t immediately clear what direction the brothel workers were given in the meantime.
Messages left for Hof Tuesday night and Wednesday morning also went unanswered. A woman who answered the phone at the brothel on Wednesday morning referred questions to Hof’s assistant, who referred questions to Hof’s Assembly campaign adviser Chuck Muth.
“My understanding is that Dennis has been speaking with his attorney this morning and intends some sort of legal action,” Muth said in an email. “What I do know is that Dennis had no plans to end operations at the Love Ranch South.”
At the meeting, commissioners — acting as the county’s liquor and licensing board — voted 3-2 to revoke the brothel license, with Wehrly abstaining. The sheriff cited ongoing court cases and her inability to consult with an attorney as the reason for her abstention. Commissioners John Koenig and Donna Cox opposed the motion.
Commissioner Lorinda Wichman pointed to violations from Oct. 2016, May 2017 and July 2017 as reason not to renew the license. She also said fees were not paid until July 27, which was late — renewal applications are supposed to be submitted no later than 30 days before the expiration of a license.
“We have the duty as this board to see that this chapter is faithfully enforced,” Wichman said. “With these violations and some with no resolution that I can see, there is no option in my mind and no way I can give a vote for this.”
Wichman and Commissioner Dan Schinhofen also accused Hof of providing false testimony at a hearing in February.
“Mr. Hof has shown himself to be dishonest and lying under oath,” Schinhofen said.
Muth didn’t directly address the allegations that Hof lied to the board. Commissioners said Hof was not present at the meeting and was out of state for medical care.
The revocation comes a few weeks after a failed attempt by brothel opponents to put a brothel ban advisory question on the November ballot. A similar advisory question is moving forward in Lyon County, where Hof also owns brothels.
Without Love Ranch, there are three other brothels in Nye County — Sheri’s Ranch, the Alien Cathouse (formerly owned by Hof) and the Chicken Ranch. In fiscal year 2017, Nye County collected $141,779 in revenue from worker registration cards and brothel license fees.
Hof is the Republican nominee for Assembly District 36, which includes Nye and several other counties and has a wide Republican voter registration advantage. He’ll face Democrat Lesia Romanov, an assistant principal in the Clark County School District, in the November general election.
Updated at 1:55 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2018 to reflect that 18 work cards include staff and prostitutes.