Former Hollywood madam and current rural Nevada small businesswoman Heidi Fleiss was turned away from Hillary Clinton's appearance in Pahrump last week, but she doesn't hold a grudge.
Fleiss, who is running a laundromat while she continues to dream of opening a brothel for women, is backing Sen. Clinton, D-N.Y., for president with all her might, she said.
By the time Fleiss and two neighbors got to the Skate Zone where Clinton was appearing, it was filled to capacity. "Naturally, I was disappointed, but it's exciting that so many people came out to see her," Fleiss said. "I don't hold it against her at all."
Fleiss is a registered Democrat who says she voted in every election from when she turned 18 to when she was convicted of felony charges and had her voting privileges revoked. They have been reinstated, she said.
"I'm a big fan of Hillary's. Any woman who's smart, how can you not be?" said Fleiss, 41. "Even if you're a Republican, if you're a woman and you're smart, you have to respect her."
Fleiss described herself as a "tree-hugger" who is generally liberal but favors the death penalty. She said her business, "Dirty Laundry," is thriving -- "I just had to buy another super-size washing machine" -- and she also wants to develop wind turbines on some land she owns. The day after the Clinton visit, she attended a forum on energy in Pahrump hosted by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Fleiss is not the first sex-industry veteran to endorse Clinton. The campaign has the official backing of porn star Jenna Jameson.
The Clinton campaign, which opened a Pahrump office over the weekend, didn't have a response to Fleiss' endorsement.
"We weren't aware she was a supporter," campaign spokeswoman Hilarie Grey said. "It seemed like the whole town was full of supporters that day. We only wish we'd had room for everyone."
Is there anyone who doesn't love the ONE campaign?
The Bono-backed movement to tackle African poverty keeps amassing proof of its universal appeal, including in Nevada, where last week it added backers including university system Chancellor Jim Rogers, Assemblywoman Valerie Weber, R-Las Vegas, and Republican political consultant Ryan Erwin.
ONE Vote '08, the presidential campaign arm of the organization, already has been endorsed by the Democratic and Republican national committees; by former Senate opponents Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Tom Daschle, D-S.D.; and by stars from actor Matt Damon to NFL quarterback Tom Brady.
In Nevada it's just as ecumenical. It has gotten Reps. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Jon Porter, R-Nev., to lay down their differences, just as it has brought the state's two political consulting kingpins, Democrat Billy Vassiliadis and Republican Sig Rogich, together despite their recent estrangement.
Also on the long list of Nevada "ambassadors": Nevada Democratic Party chairwoman Jill Derby, Republican consultant Greg Ferraro, former UNLV President Carol Harter, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce President Kara Kelley, Palms owner George Maloof, former County Manager Thom Reilly, Nevada AFL-CIO's Gail Tuzzolo and County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury.
While ONE Vote has a presence in all the early presidential nominating states, the national campaign has Nevada ties. Its president and CEO is Susan McCue, formerly Reid's longtime chief of staff.
BAND VS. BAND
Gov. Jim Gibbons is asking every red-blooded high school marching band in Nevada to polish their instruments and press their uniforms.
To revitalize the Nevada Day celebration this October, Gibbons has decreed that this year's parade in the capital will feature a "battle of the bands" competition for the first time.
This will be the first U.S. Scholastic Band Association, Reno-Tahoe Marching Band Competition. It will feature both a parade and a field element, with the overall winner of both events being awarded the Governor's Grand Champion Trophy.
While Oct. 31 is the official anniversary of the state's admission to the union in 1864, Nevada Day is celebrated on the last Friday in October. This year, Nevada Day will be observed on Friday, Oct. 26, with the parade being held on Saturday, Oct. 27, beginning at 10 a.m.
After the parade, the school band field competition will begin at 4 p.m. at the Carson High School stadium.
The theme for this year's Nevada Day Parade will be "Mysteries of Nevada -- AREA 51." Gibbons said the first battle of the bands competition will add an exciting element to the festivities.
KEEPING THE MONEY
A major Republican donor indicted this month on fraud, perjury and money laundering charges had given money to the 2004 campaign of Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev.
Democrats immediately pressed Porter to give up the $1,468 received from Alan Fabian, a Maryland consultant who also had given $1,000 to presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani and was co-chairman of Mitt Romney's national finance committee.
Fabian was accused of taking part in a leasing scheme involving $32 million in computer equipment. Giuliani and Romney have distanced themselves from him.
The businessman donated to Porter's campaign on Sept. 20, 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records. As is Porter's policy, the lawmaker will give the money to a Nevada charity if Fabian "is found guilty in a court of law," spokesman Matt Leffingwell said.
Porter last fall divested $6,000 in contributions from former Ohio Rep. Bob Ney, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges. In 2005, he gave up $11,000 he had received from former California Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who admitted taking bribes from defense contractors.
Leffingwell said Porter did not know Fabian, and the donation was not solicited.
It was possible the money was part of a bundled donation Fabian might have made to vulnerable House Republicans at the request of the Republican Party, he said.
After returning from a trip to India, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., was none too pleased to hear of Democratic criticism of his comments about Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who is still recovering from a brain aneurysm but plans to run for re-election next year.
"All I said is that the race has started and it's fair to start campaigning and get this thing going," said Ensign, who is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "It's ridiculous what the Democrats said."
Ensign was reacting to a statement by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who described Republicans as "sad" and "desperate" after Ensign said he would pursue an aggressive effort to unseat Johnson.
Shortly after Ensign's comments, Johnson's office announced he would make his first public appearance since suffering the brain hemorrhage last December. Johnson plans to meet with constituents Aug. 28 in Sioux Falls, S.D., and return to the Senate in September.
Review-Journal Capital Bureau writer Sean Whaley, Stephens Washington Bureau chief Steve Tetreault and Stephens Washington Bureau writer Tony Batt contributed to this report. Contact political reporter Molly Ball at 387-2919 or MBall@reviewjournal.com.