From prostitutes to politics: Brothel owner's bid questioned
September 13, 2016
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FILE - In this June 13, 2016, file photo, Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite BunnyRanch, a legal brothel near Carson City, Nevada, is pictured during an interview during a break in the trial of Denny Edward Phillips and Russell Lee Hogshooter in Oklahoma City. Dennis Hof, the man who owns a brothel famous for an HBO reality show and a medical scare involving basketball player Lamar Odom is challenging an incumbent for a seat in the Nevada Assembly. His opponent questions his qualifications and says it's just another publicity stunt. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Dennis Hof doesn't lack for name recognition in his run for Nevada state office.
He starred in the HBO adult reality series "Cathouse" and didn't shy away from the spotlight when former NBA player Lamar Odom suffered a medical episode during a stay at Hof's legal brothel, called Love Ranch.
But the straight-laced incumbent he's challenging is raising doubts about Hof's suitability to serve in the Assembly, including whether the man who grabbed headlines when his working girls declared themselves "Hookers for Hillary" even lives in the rural district he seeks to represent.
Two-term Republican James Oscarson said he's not going to mount a residency challenge against Hof, a registered Libertarian, because he wants voters in the district to have a meaningful choice. But he says Hof is making of farce of the race.
"I think this is about garnering some publicity for himself and for the businesses that he represents," Oscarson said. "Unfortunately, it's going to be done at the expense of the voters in (Assembly District 36)."
The wealthy brothel owner, who tweets pornographic photos to his 20,000 Twitter followers, is adopting a more sanitized persona for his campaign. He doesn't foresee bringing prostitutes with him on the campaign trail, and the biography on his website focuses on Hof's early ventures as a gas station proprietor before directing readers to buy his book, "The Art of the Pimp."
Hof is funding his own campaign and attacks Oscarson as "a high-priced political prostitute" who voted in favor of a new tax on large businesses last year in exchange for campaign contributions. That could play well in the fiscally conservative district, where Oscarson won by slim margins in a crowded Republican primary.
"Do I understand politics? No," Hof said. "I want to be a businessman who can make change without owing anybody anything."
Oscarson, who calls Nevada's legal prostitution "not my cup of tea," said the contributions allow him to run a good campaign and defeat Hof. He said his vote for taxes was a way to bring more money to Nevada's bottom-ranked school system, especially in struggling rural schools.
"I didn't do anything more than what I thought was best for our constituents," he said.
Hof's driver's license and filing paperwork list the same address as his brothel in the town of Pahrump, about an hour's drive west of Las Vegas, but he contends he lives in an adjacent house.
His campaign Twitter account places him in Amargosa Valley, which is also in the district, but his personal Twitter account and campaign finance paperwork list places outside the district.
Hof acknowledges that his campaign might look like a stunt. After all, he brought a prostitute Caressa Kisses along with him to the Nevada Secretary of State's Office when he filed for office this spring.
"I do things to get media attention. That's what I do," Hof said. "But when they see the billboards and when they get the mailers, they're going to understand that I'm passionate about the commerce tax."