Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s threat to shut down the regulated sex industry in his state doesn’t exactly have Nevada prostitutes shaking in their G-strings.
“I will lie down for a lot of things, but Senator Reid is not one of them,” said Brooke Taylor, a five-year veteran working girl at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch just outside Carson City.
In his biennial address at the state capitol Tuesday, the Nevada senator vowed to strip the state’s 16 counties of the right to determine their own brothel laws, saying that “the time has come” to rid the state of the practice.
“When the nation thinks about Nevada, it should think about the world’s newest ideas and newest careers – not about its oldest profession,” Reid told the state delegation.
Reid’s call to ban prostitution in the state — which is only legal in a handful of mostly rural counties — received a downright cold response from the audience, which included brothel owner Dennis Hof and eight of his “ladies” who work for him at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.
Hof, and other local industry leaders, said Reid was just using the issue to distract from the state’s other pressing problems. Nevada has one of the worst unemployment rates in the country, and its economy has seen little recovery since the recession began.
By focusing on prostitution, Reid could spend the week back in his district fielding frivolous questions about cathouses and not the state of the economy, brothel owners said.
“Reid is just trying to cover his butt,” Hoff told The Daily Caller. “He’s putting the spotlight on the brothel industry and using us as a red herring. He’s punishing the counties who didn’t vote for him. He’s saying, ‘You didn’t vote for me, then go to hell.’”
Nevada Republican Governor Brian Sandoval, who would have the final say on any proposal to outlaw the industry state-wide, suggested he would veto the bill if it ever made it to his desk.
“It’s up to the counties to decide if they want it or not,” he told the Las Vegas Sun.
In large part, brothel owners and defenders of local rights say that although they take calls from policymakers to eliminate their livelihood seriously, Reid’s speech was an empty threat that lacks any significant support in the Nevada assembly.
“No one has rallied on his behalf,” Bobbi Davis, owner of the Shady Lady Ranch in Goldfield, told TheDC. “In the last election, only one rural country supported him. His son ran for governor and no one supported it. It could be retaliation. It sounds like a dumb thing for a grown man to do, but that could be it.”
George Flint, a former minister who has been the spokesman for the legal sex industry in Nevada since the mid 1980s, wrote off the senator’s remarks as just another “political move.”
“I’m not going to lay awake worrying about it,” Flint told TheDC. “I don’t see anybody down there, and I mean this sincerely, being swept away by the senator’s comments. The general feeling yesterday afternoon as I started polling various members of the legislature was in fact that Nevada has better things to worry about than that.”
Reid’s comments no doubt took most in the industry by surprise. The Senate majority leader has been known to boast about how his mother paid for his law school fees by washing the clothes of local prostitutes in Searchlight, Nevada.
“It’s very much unlike him,” Flint said. “You never know about Harry.”
Caitlin Emma contributed to this report.