Dennis Hof, American Brothel Owner Turned Republican Candidate, Has Died

Storied Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof is dead at the age of 72.

Up until he died, Hof was also a Republican candidate for the Silver State’s Assembly–the lower house of the Nevada Legislature. Hof’s campaign manager, conservative author Chuck Muth, announced the candidate’s death via Twitter on Monday afternoon:

According to the Reno Gazette Journal, Nye County Commission John Koenig confirmed the news at a Tuesday meeting of the Nye County Board of Commissioners. The announcement came via board spokesperson Arnold Knightly.

“[Hof] went to sleep last night and didn’t wake up,” Knightly noted during the meeting.

The Nye County Sheriff’s Office is reportedly investigating Hof’s unexpected passing.

In comments to the Gazette Journal, Muth elaborated on what he knew.

“I wish [there was] something I could tell you. I’m on my way up there right now to find out exactly what the hell happened,” Muth said. “I got a call from his assistant, in tears saying Dennis died and I need you to come out here immediately, I can’t deal with this myself.”

Muth took note of the celebratory atmosphere the evening before at a campaign party and also said that Hof appeared to be in perfectly normal health. He said:

We had a wonderful event last night. He was having the time of his life last night. Grover Norquist was there. Ron Jeremy was there. [Hof] was given a rescue dog as a birthday present. He was having the time of his life.

Earlier this year, Hof shocked the Nevada political establishment–and several members of the national press–by unseating an incumbent GOP state lawmaker for District 36 of the Nevada State Assembly. The district is heavily Republican and likely to remain in the GOP’s column come election night.

Hof’s death marks the latest headline-generating incident in the 2018 campaign season for the otherwise ignored state house district in Nevada.

Some of Hof’s world famous brothels were briefly put out of business earlier this year when the Nye County Board of Commissioners revoked Hof’s licenses on the basis of late renewal application and three permit violations spread across 2016 and 2017. Those issues weren’t particularly pressing regulatory violations, but had apparently not been resolved in a timely or satisfactory manner for the county board.

As a result of the board’s decision, Hof’s Nye County brothels were shut down for just shy of three weeks and 18 of his employees were forced to hand over their sex work authorization cards.

On August 27, however, Hof was back in business. The regulatory issue wasn’t cleared up, but of successfully attained a preliminary injunction based on alleged First Amendment retaliation.

Federal Judge Richard Boulware said the board’s allegations of building code violations were unsubstantiated and noted that the agenda item for the brothel license renewal said the business was in compliance at the time the licenses were revoked. That lawsuit is still pending.

Years before his entry into Republican Party politics, Hof and his workers at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch mesmerized premium cable viewers on the popular HBO series Cathouse (as well documentaries and specials released under various iterations of the Cathouse brand), which appeared on the network intermittently from 2002 to 2014.

[image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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