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Brothels fear Reid will seek their demise

A group of brothel owners and licensed prostitutes are headed to Carson City today to defend their industry from a possible new foe: U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.

The Senate majority leader is scheduled to address state lawmakers at 11 a.m., and some industry insiders are convinced he plans to use the speech to call for an end to the state’s legal brothel business.

George Flint, who lobbies on behalf of Nevada bordellos, said he has it on good authority that Reid will ask lawmakers to outlaw brothels.

Jon Summers, Reid’s chief communications adviser, would neither confirm nor deny the senator’s plans to discuss prostitution before the Legislature.

"We are still working on Senator Reid’s speech," Summers said. "He looks forward to addressing the state Legislature and talking about Nevada’s economy and the challenges facing the state."

Flint isn’t taking any chances. On Monday, he was busy rallying members of the Nevada Brothel Owners Association to make their presence known during Reid’s visit to the Legislature.

"We want him to say it in front of us, whatever he’s going to say," Flint said.

Specifically, he said today ‘s audience will include 12 to 15 working women — "all dressed very professionally" — who stand to lose their well-paying jobs should the state outlaw licensed brothels once and for all.

Brothel owner Dennis Hof also intends to be there "with 10 hookers in the front row," he said.

Hof owns several Nevada bordellos, including the Moonlite BunnyRanch just outside Carson City and his newly acquired LoveRanch South, 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

He said Reid won re-election last year but got little support in rural Nevada, and this might be the senator’s way of exacting some revenge. "Take away their brothel money," Hof said. "It could be a real war."

Flint said he has known Reid since his days as a young assemblyman more than 40 years ago, and the whole thing has left the longtime lobbyist scratching his head.

"It’s hard to say what’s in his mind," Flint said. "I’ve always considered him a friend, and he’s always been good to me. So this is coming out of left field."

Flint said he has never known Reid to take a public stance against the legal brothel business.

In his 2008 memoir "The Good Fight," Reid revealed that as a boy he learned to swim at a whorehouse in Searchlight. Back then, he wrote, the fading mining town was home to 13 brothels and not a single church.

His mother, Inez, took in laundry for the bordellos.

Nevada’s first legal brothel opened in Storey County in 1972. Today, there are 24 licensed brothels open for business in 10 rural counties.

Nevada is the only state that allows its counties to tax and regulate brothels, though prostitution remains illegal in several counties including Clark and Washoe.

Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault contributed to this report. Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.

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