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Harry Reid: ‘The time has come for us to outlaw prostitution’

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AP Photo/Cathleen Allison

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to a joint session of the Nevada Legislature on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, at the Legislature in Carson City.

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011 | 5:34 p.m.

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Reid Seeks Prostitution Ban

Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel owner Dennis Hof answers the media questions on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011 at the Legislature in Carson City following a speech from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in which he proposed banning legal prostitution in the state. Hof and a number of his prostitutes and other brothel supporters attended the speech and called the idea Launch slideshow »

Nye County Brothels

A sign for the Shady Lady Ranch brothel in Nye County. The Shady Lady, off U.S. Highway 95 about 30 miles north of Beatty, was the first brothel to hire a male prostitute. Nye County is one of 11 Nevada counties where prostitution is legal. Launch slideshow »

CARSON CITY — Sen. Harry Reid on Tuesday called for “an adult conversation” about prostitution in Nevada, saying it is an impediment to economic development because it discourages businesses from moving here.

“Nevada needs to be known as the first place for innovation and investment – not as the last place where prostitution is still legal,” he said in a speech to the Nevada Legislature.

Reid told the assembled lawmakers that he met recently with a group of business leaders who run data centers for technology companies. They visited Storey County in search of a new location for their businesses but “one of the businessmen in that meeting told me he simply couldn’t believe that one of the biggest businesses in the county he was considering for his new home has legal prostitution.”

He said he has talked to families who “don’t want their children to look out of a school bus and see a brothel.”

"We should do everything we can to make sure the world holds Nevada in the same high regard you and I do," Reid continued. "If we want to attract business to Nevada that puts people back to work, the time has come for us to outlaw prostitution."

The industry had been warned that Reid would call for an end to legalized prostitution, which is allowed only in the state's rural counties.

Dennis Hof, a flamboyant brothel owner, arrived at the Legislature about 90 minutes before Reid was scheduled to speak. Hof was accompanied by eight working girls from his brothel outside Carson City.

"Harry Reid will have to pry the cat house keys from my cold dead hands," he told the media.

Legislative leaders were not pleased at the prospect of the leading Democrat in the U.S. Senate floating legalized prostitution as a key issue for them to confront. Some questioned the timing of his call, coming as the state grapples with a massive budget deficit and record unemployment.

If Reid believes prostitution gives Nevada enough of a black eye that business won’t relocate here, some wondered, why then would he create a circus-like spectacle by mentioning the topic and attracting national attention to it.

While Reid's remarks were the primary focus of the media and others in attendance, he only spent a few paragraphs on the topic in an eight-page speech.

Reaction to Reid's remarks was mixed, with most elected officials saying any decision on whether to ban it is best left to the rural counties.

"It's up to the counties to decide if they want it or not," Gov. Brian Sandoval said. Asked if he had ever visited a brothel, Sandoval said no.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, chairman of the state's economic development commission, said: "I have never been approached by any prospective business or had an inquiry as to that industry. That doesn't mean it's not a thought in someone's business plan going forward. I suspect it would present a challenge to certain individuals bringing in a company but it has never been a topic of conservation."

"It's a local government decision. We need to respect the will of the 10 counties that decided the practice should be continued and seven have not," said Krolicki. He was also asked if he had visited a brothel. Krolicki said no.

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford said, "I personally do not support prostitution, however, it has been handled by local governments in the past and it has been a history and tradition."

Asked if it should be continued, Horsford said, "With all the other issues this session -- the budget and education -- it has yet to be determined. I agree with Sen. Reid with his focus on renewal energy and putting Nevadans back to work and those are the priorities of this session."

Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, said "let the counties decide" whether they want prostitution. "Some counties have put it on the ballot," he said.

His district includes some of the rural Nevada counties that have brothels. His home county of Churchill has approved brothels, but none have located there so far.

Reid opened his speech Tuesday talking about his time in the Nevada Assembly with future U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan. He also defended the federal stimulus and TARP as successes that prevented further damage to Nevada’s economy.

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  1. It's really no surprise that Reid would speak out against brothels, the government hates competition.

    All joking aside, this is a purely state issue and Reid should not be getting involved in his official capacity.

  2. boftx, I agree that it is a state issue. I also think that Harry Reid is as entitled to his opinion, however wrong we may think it is, as you are and I am.

    If we are going to have legal prostitution, we should be honest about it, and tax and regulate it like any other form of entertainment (and I know that many would tell you it is not entertainment but abuse of women, and I am not disputing that). Especially since it seems painfully obvious that neither the governor nor enough of the legislature has the brains or guts to institute the higher taxes we need and the reforms we need to attract the kinds of industry that legal prostitution repels.

  3. I agree that Reid is entitled to his opinion, which was why I restricted my comment to him acting in an official capacity.

    And like you, Michael, I think that the brothels should be taxed just like anyone else. It could be argued that prostitution is the ultimate form of free market enterprise.

  4. Harry, speaking as one who knows something about screwing people for money.

    In reality, he knows its the powerful teachers unions that are stopping companies from moving here. The way they are choking off education should be a crime. But they give Harry more donations than the brothel's so you know who gets the ax!!

  5. Well Unions and Latinos, you voted for him and you got him!

  6. He can cite one business that didn't want to move to a rural county and be by a cathouse. Wouldn't he (or sane person) agree that:

    1. A few brothels scattered through the desert aren't even close to being the crux of Nevada's problems,

    2. If prostitution was legal in Clark County, it would be corporatised and made into a multi-million dollar business...you know, the kind we are trying to get to move to NV with flowery speeches like this one?

    3. Enough damage has been done to individual rights and personal freedoms. We don't need one man trying to hang his personal moral code on the other 2.7MM of us.

    Why, oh why, did the GOP have to put up a nutter for that senate seat last year?

  7. We can close down the legal houses and let it go underground like it is in Clark county or we can take the taxes they have offered and keep some regulation over it. Either way it will still be here.

    If companies want to move to Nevada they do not have to move into areas that it is legal. Clark county has lots of room for big companies. Really pretty simple. They don't have to move to Storey County.

    Sounds like Mr. Reid just found someone to back up his views rather then someone really wanting to move to Nevada.

  8. If anything there should be a push to decriminalize prostitution so it can be taxed. While I'm not saying prostitution is a great thing and we should all visit a brothel, in reality, its going on on The Strip everyday and has been going on outside county lines for years. In fact, the brothels are very well self-regulated with constant disease testing and things of that nature.
    Its a joke that with the disaster facing this state right now, Harry chooses this to go after. What does this have to do with the economy, jobs, taxes, etc...? Keeping companies from moving to Nevada? I'd love to know what companies won't move here because of that issue. I just can't believe that this guy was voted back in.

  9. This is why progressives should dump the Reid dynasty. We had his son run the Governor's race into the ground, taking a lot of other candidates with him. Now this nonsense from Reid.

    Germany 8% unemployment
    Britain 8% unemployment
    Japan 7% Unemployment
    Switzerland 3.5% unemployment

    Nevada 15% unemployment

    All of the above have legal prostitution, what is the name of the company that doesn't want to come here? "The PTL Club?"

    What kind of nut is worried about some thread bare brothels with 15% unemployment. In fact, if it wasn't for Reid stupid boring speech, no one was thinking about prostitution at this point. Moreover, multinational companies do business all over the world, where there is all kinds of prostitution.

    Keep in mind Reid backed Sandoval for Judge, he is his baby. I'm sure he would like to see him as the Republican VP or a cabinet member. It used to be people would say "you'll never have a President from Nevada, because they have gambling and prostitution..." Now, since 48 States have gambling, its "from a State that has legal brothels..." Gambling is OK except in Hawaii and Utah. I suppose Reid has some silly pipe-dream about seeing his son or his buddy Sandoval as President one day. "Let's see Sandoval to the next Republican administration and my son to the Governor's office?"

    If we wanted some stupidity like this, we could have elected Angle. What's next Reid? banning beer?

    Time for Reid to resign.

  10. Legal brothels provide significant tax revenues for some of the rural counties. In counties with a population under 400,000, the county commission decides whether to license legal brothels. In Senator Reid's example, legal brothels in Storey County were portrayed as offensive to businesses looking to relocate there. The Storey County Commission can decide whether those businesses are more important to Storey County than legal brothels.

  11. Royal Dutch Shell: from Holland (legal brothels and pot) "Jeepers, we wouldn't want do business in Nevada, brothels and all..."

    Some of the business people pushing this "Nevada data hub stuff" have some pretty sleazy backgrounds regarding other businesses they have been involved with in the past.

    Once the infrastructure goes in, the data hub does not need to employ that many people locally, it can be monitored and controlled from anywhere in the world. Also, the technology is modular, it goes together like a board in a desk top PC, but in a larger scale. It doesn't take that much work to set up or maintain.

    What is the name of this "data hub guy and company" or is this another one of Reid's vaporware friends.

    If Reid wanted to do something constructive, why doesn't he sponsor a Bill protecting the rights of Sex Workers, instead of trashing their profession?

    (I have some background in data hubs, fiber optic, etc. by the way.)

  12. Prostitution and gambling are the two greatest impediments to economic and academic development because they both discourage businesses from moving here. The world out there doesn't need those things to run businesses.

    Prostitution makes Nevada look like Cowboy Heaven, which according to some descriptions, has a low spot in the barbed wire fence that leads to the Indian Reservation right next door.

    Nevada in fact, functions much like an Indian Reservation: you enter the reservation, stop at the tobacco shop for smokes, go next door to buy some booze, then head off to a casino to gamble and have a buffet. Don't ask for education, health services or business development loans because reservations don't carry them. Soon Nevada won't either.

    For anybody that thinks that Prostitution is found at a few shacks in the desert hasn't been around the Strip much. They don't jump out at you but they dooooooo smile real nice...and how nice a smile it is, almost makes the right person sweat...

  13. Shows you have disconnected Harry "The Ritz" Reid is from Nevada. What a bozo. And now we have another six years to put up with this nut.

  14. With all due respect, I believe Harry Reid is just looking for an excuse for his (and the rest of the state's) dismal performance. He probably doesn't want to face the possibility that he and the people running this state are just incompetent. He has become a dinosaur. He's now that 62 year old woman in a bar that thinks and dresses like she's still 25. How embarrassing. The old ideas aren't going to work in these new times and he just can't figure it out. How did he win? Oh, he ran against someone less capable than he is. Looks like we got a head start in the race to the bottom.

  15. Pushing a moral agenda on people disguised as helping NV gain new buisness.

    The only way to get him out is to put someone up against him during the next election. He's still a nevada senator because of our lack of options.

    Of the 40 people that commented on this story I bet less than 1/2 actually voted in the last election.

  16. If we weren't in such trouble some of the comments here would be hilarious. In particular, some of the people who now say that Reid is bad for Nevada are the very ones who said he was not only better than Angle, but great in his own right, that nobody could do more for us.

    No doubt, Angle was a flawed candidate, but at least if she said this no one would listen other than to laugh their heads off at it. Reid will get attention from his party members and some serious airtime with this and draw even more attention to an issue that should really come under the "let sleeping dogs lie" category.

  17. Now it looks like Drudge has linked to the story, and it will be on FOX, CNN, Limbaugh, ET AL tomorrow.

    Way to go Harry.

    The kind of "Jobs" we are concern about are the ones that provide paychecks to Nevadans.

  18. What is Sen. Reid thinking?

  19. With Brian SandOvals cuts to education I can't see how anyone will have any other skills in Nevada.

  20. The simple fact that Sandoval and Horsford are in general agreement on this should speak volumes about how Reid is starting to be perceived in Carson City.

  21. Nevada and the U.S. is Economically going up in flames and this is the best he can do?

  22. Now "sundog" wants to ban gambling to encourage business to come to Nevada? Good thinking?

    Business does well in Japan and Europe where prostituion is basically legal.

  23. The data hubs have electrical radio waves that cause brain cancer in children. Time to ban all data hubs in Nevada.

  24. I think it is equally important and time to nominate a new State Bird - I've been seeing a lot of this one on the Freeways around here.

  25. How many people have in the state have over seen a brothel? There aren't any in Clark County. Legal prostitution is not a problem, illegal is. I think the brothels are not a problem that needs fixing.

    Reid is just trying to deflect and change the subject. I'd rather he spent his time trying to work with Republicans instead of wasting time on this non-issue.

  26. I don't the working girls of Nevada appreciate being compared to politicians.

    You guys have no class.

  27. Whether you agree or disagree with Reid's position, the real problem is how he did this. First, this is a local matter and he had no business getting involved in his official capacity. Second, he should not have done so in a public setting where he should have realized it would become a circus (to use a legislator's words.)

    This has been a non-issue up til now, and I'm sure that it was discussed quietly as needed whenever a company was in negotiations for a move.

    Reid is entitled to his opinion, but his course of action on it is deplorable.

  28. by anatolepushkin @3:16pm;

    "Dear Harry Reid: You and your boss, the Kenyan
    Messiah, are the ones destroying Nevada with your immature remarks."

    That's beautiful...
    JUST BEAUTIFUL!!!
    lol!!!

  29. This will get Libya and Wisconsin off the front pages in a hurry.

  30. Harry ought to leave the morality crusades to the evangelical right.
    You want to clean up the state,Harry? then get rid of the porn slappers on the strip.To me, they are far more offensive than the occasional hooker that I'll cross paths with on the strip, or more recently on the casino floor.
    He's doing this for a reason,who is in his ear on this issue? strip casino owners? That doesn't seem logical to me.

  31. I agree with the 49er. Harry is up to something for someone. This was a total non-issue until today. Why it is on the radar now is beyond me with all of the other problems the state has right now. The brothels in Nye County at least pay taxes.

  32. What a sad, pathetic day, Senator Reid. What utter hypocrisy.

    This native Las Vegan is embarassed by you today.

    The time has come, evidently, to take back Nevada from Senator Reid and whatever other anti-freedom, anti-Nevada ideas he has in his back pocket.

    I love Nevada, I love Las Vegas, and I love freedom.

    Legalize everything.

  33. Senator Reid is politicking - tremendous sums of money are brought into Nevada due to the existence of legal and illegal prostitution. See:

    Farley, Melissa, Symposium: Sex for Sale: Prostitution, Trafficking, and Cultural Amnesia: What We Must Not Know in Order To Keep the Business of Sexual Exploitation Running Smoothly, 18 YALE J.L. & FEMINISM 109 (2006).

  34. Sen. Reid is showing his ignorance... Again. After 24 YEARS in office he came up with this? What about all the topless bars? Trucks are driving up and down Las Vegas Bl. with GIANT photos of scantily dressed women on them advertising strip clubs. Won't prospective businesses see those too? What the deuce man? Harry Reid is taking us back in time. Maybe he'll want to make Nevada a dry state too. Can somebody please tell me what's wrong with this guy? Is he off his meds?

  35. Mark Twain once said that the United States has no native criminal class save Congress. Can you just imagine what he would say about them today? I'm sure he would have some special words for Reid.

  36. Waggin the dog Harry? When a guy can't perform and get the job done he comes up with a nonsense issue to distract people from the real ones. This one old Harry should drop before he bites off more than he can chew. School kids looking out the window of a bus looking at a brothel? Nice try. We can't protect kids from much of anything anyway but this is an excuse,that much like Harry,... is weak. I'm sure there aren't any kids on a bus cruising down Homestead Road in Pahrump that can even see the two ranches,...much less care if they did.

    Stop it Harry,...your embarassing Nevada and yourself

  37. Where ya been Harry,...thanks to poor trade policies our jobs are all goin to India, China and Mexico,...leave legal brothels alone. Stop creating problems where there aren't any.

  38. Have the poles swapped? The right were always the socially conservative, pro-business party and the left were always the socially liberal, anti-business party. All of a sudden Reid cares about business? The leader of the tax business to death and anything goes in society party all of a sudden has changed his spots?

    Sounds like pre-campaign rhetoric in preparation for his next senate campaign. He likely wants to be seen as the pro-business budget conscious leader. A man of many faces. The only question is which one is the real Harry Reid.

  39. Chunky says:

    Brothels are the least of our worries; barely a speck on the radar. It's simply something Mr. Reid can say that sounds good, feels good and makes for a great headline / news bite!

    He should be worrying about balancing the state and Federal budget and probably 1000 other items that are far more pressing than brothels.

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  40. A few people who commented on this have wondered what Reid is trying to cover up with this. Well, let's look at the rest of his speech. ( http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/feb... )

    One thing that caught my eye was the amount of time given over to talking about term limits. The full speech was reproduced as 74 paragraphs. Over 10%, 9 paragraphs were devoted to asking the legislature to pass an amendment, that if approved by the voters, would do away with the "...destructive term-limits law."

    Here is the conclusion to his argument contained in those 9 paragraphs: "We should never get in the way of our own ability to move Nevada forward. It is up to you to protect our best leaders' contributions -- not reject them. So I ask you to take this to the people and reverse our destructive term-limits law."

    Was this what he (and his speech writers) wanted to take attention away from?

  41. As a supporter of Reid against Angle; I saw that Reid' opponent was comparatively worse in her opinions such as abolishing social security, department of education, making beer illegal, etc. Now, I find that Reid is too disconnected from the real world and/or has the worst policy advisors. First of all, I do agree with Harry Reid in improving our education and making Nevada a leader in solar/geothermal energy production, but I definitely do not agree with him on term limits and making prostitution illegal. The fact of the matter is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with legalized prostitution. Legalized prostitution minimizes transmission of sexual diseases and protects the sexual workers from mental and physical exploitation often seen on the streets of every city in the world, regardless of the continent, religion or culture. As far as term limits are concerned, this is the only way to bring in new fresh thinking into our government. In fact what happens with people who keep getting re-elected, as people I shall not mention, is that these politicians think of themselves as royalty and not as a public servant. Our laws need to be streamlined and every time new legislation is created then at least two old pieces of legislation need to be taken off the books to make our system more streamlined. Our biggest problems are the highest high school drop out rate and the highest unemployment rate. Our resources are gold, geothermal/solar, and miscellaneous mineral deposits. Mr. Reid look at our problems and our resources and suggest solutions but please do not try to repair things, such as getting rid of term limits and legalized prostitution, which actually make our state more efficient and modern; and not the other way around.

  42. There has been a lot of investigation in the NFL about severe and repeated head injuries to their players. Searchlight Harry's early career was boxing. It might be time for Harry's brain to be examined. The impacts are starting take a toll on old Harry. This is obvious to the most casual observer.

  43. gmag39--Kenyan messiah?

  44. Prostitution (and all other "moral" exceptions) should be legalized and taxed. Anyone can see that it is the blackmaket that contains/propagates all the harm.

  45. Aside from gaming, the Fortune 500 and the tech industry do not look kindly the sex industry, legal or not.
    ***

    Prove it!!

  46. tbvegas said:

    "Outlaw prostitution and watch convention booking nosedive!"

    Give me a break! How many conventioneers are renting automobiles and driving an hour to Pahrump? If prostitution were so popular, it would take a lot more than 7 or 8 brothels to please the millions of conventioneers that you seem to think are driving over the hump for their thrills.

    ****

    Yeah, those attending conventions actually DRIVE to Pahrump for some legal sex!!! Get real! All these conventioneers have to do is open up the Vegas phone book to "Escorts" and no one has to leave their hotel room! Or they can go cruise the casino and casino bars after 2:00 in the morning. OR...at any time of day - flash a wad of cash at the tables. They'll have more ladies siding up to them than they can handle!! And they KNOW this. So driving to Pahrump is moot.

  47. Mr. Reid: Name one business who said "We would have moved to Nevada, but there are brothels there." I have not heard one statement stating that they have cost the state businesses or industries of any kind.

    I'm not sure who Reid is grandstanding for.

    @MichaelGreen and davestovall: Prostitution in Nevada is taxed and regulated already - the legally-conducted type, anyway.

  48. airweare,

    I can't help but think that the constant need for A/C of some type, no matter what time of year and NV Energy pricing is a concern, too.

    You know better than most what it means to be in a desert where we have wide temperature swings every day. There are very few days when you can go 24hrs without without the need for cooling or heating. Throw in the needs of a data center, for example, and you can see how energy costs are a prime consideration.

    And I'll beat you to the punch by saying that a really long-term investment would build their own solar power capability into the facility as much as possible. There are new technologies coming online slowly that might allow for that, but they are not ready for full commercial use yet. For now, NV Energy is going to be a determining factor to some extent.

  49. Well I see you can't print the M word motivating this move by Harry, so take a step back at really look at what would make Harry take this action. C'mon, Brothels outlawed in Nevada? Personal vengance on the state because of an election result is in very bad taste and I'll bet we haven't seen the end of it.