NYE COUNTY, Nev.—Elections in Nevada can be hard-fought, what with urban areas tending to be more liberal and rural areas more conservative—and nowhere was that more evident over the weekend than Nye County, where, with a primary election coming up on Tuesday, June 12, several county officials reportedly conspired to remove a billboard featuring brothel owner Dennis Hof's campaign for Nevada Assemblymember.
According to attorney Allan B. Gelbard, his client, Hof, learned late Friday afternoon that a pro-Hof billboard that had been erected on Hof's own property had been removed by county officials, apparently in hopes of swinging Tuesday's election in favor of the incumbent, Assemblymember James Oscarson.
As soon as Hof learned of the removal, he contacted his Nevada attorney, renowned First Amendment advocate Marc Randazza, who quickly got to work on a temporary restraining order (TRO) to have the billboard replaced, and managed to get the case heard on an emergency basis by U.S. District Judge Richard F. Bouleware, II, who granted the TRO immediately.
According to Judge Bouleware's ruling, the defendants—Nye County; Nye County District Attorney Angela Bello; Oscarson; Vice-Chairman of the Nye County Board of County Commissioners Dan Schinhofen; Nye County Manager Timothy Sutton; the Nye County Sheriff’s Office; and Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly—"are enjoined from confiscating or taking any more of Plaintiff’s signs without following the procedures outlined at the hearing on June 9, 2018. Specifically, prior to further confiscation of any of Plaintiff’s signs that do not pose an immediate safety concern, he must be afforded a notice identifying the specific code violation and a date for a pre-deprivation hearing before an individual(s) who has the authority to determine the legality of a sign and enforce this determination."
Hof has faced a lot of political opposition since he announced his interest in running for office, not all of it directed at the candidate himself. For example, in April of this year, activists in Nye and Lyons Counties, where Hof owns several brothels, mounted a petition drive to get an initiative on the ballot which would once again criminalize prostitution in those counties, thus forcing all of the county brothels, including Hof's, to close. Earlier, in February, Hof received a complaint from Sherrif Wehrly about signs he had erected on local highways directing potential customers to his Love Ranch South. The sign reads "," and was topped by a simple drawing of a couple in cowgirl position, though no genitalia are visible. Wehrly, reportedly at the instance of Schinhofen, wanted the drawing above the words covered up, or he would schedule a "show cause" hearing, which might threaten Hof's license to own the brothel. Hof acquiesced and covered the drawing.
Reportedly, the billboard that was removed Friday evening was remounted by 8 a.m. Sunday morning—and both sides are anxiously awaiting the results of Tuesday's election.
Pictured: One of Dennis Hof's campaign billboards.
(h/t to Al Gelbard for the tip)