LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A Nevada strip club owner who operated five brothels and who won the Republican primary for the state assembly seat, in part due to evangelicals who were willing to back the candidate despite his unscrupulous profession, has died. Reports state that it is likely that he will still win the election in November.
Dennis Hof died in his sleep sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning after hosting a campaign rally and birthday party attended by porn actor Ron Jeremy, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and others. Hof just turned 72 on Sunday.
He was found dead on Tuesday by Jeremy, who sought to wake up Hof to go to a meeting in Pahrump. While the cause of death is not known at this time, no foul play is believed to be involved.
As previously reported, Hof was chosen over incumbent Republican assemblyman and hospital executive James Oscarson by voters in June to face off against Democrat Lesia Romanov. He was the author of “The Art of the Pimp” and his Moonlite BunnyRanch brothel was featured in the HBO series “Cathouse.”
Hof was married twice, and claimed to have had sexual relations with 4,000 women. His campaign website warns that although he is a successful businessman, “he’s no choirboy. The rest of his story includes lots of sex, nudity and language that no good Christian woman should ever want to hear.”
“Most brothel owners keep a low profile, offering few interviews and buying only subtle advertising. But Hof had a penchant for splashy billboards and stunts that included helping several women ‘auction’ their virginity,” the Associated Press reports.
Nonetheless, reports around the time of the primaries outlined that some evangelicals said that they were willing to vote for Hof over the current legislator because he, like Donald Trump, was a wealthy businessman and a political outsider. Hof also identified as conservative and supported gun rights, repealing the state’s commerce tax and addressing illegal immigration.
“I’ve been talking to a lot of these Christian evangelical voters and they say they’ve been perfectly happy to overlook the fact that Hof is the state’s biggest brothel keeper because they believe he’s a wealthy businessman and can’t be bought, cannot be corrupted, and will keep his campaign promises,” Reuters correspondent Tim Reid noted.
Hof added that he believed evangelicals were willing to look past his prostitution empire and focus on other aspects, in part, due to the fact that his brothels are legal and are a part of the state’s culture.
“The religious people voted for me because they’re tired of being lied to by politicians that say they’re Christian folks. And they set aside the fact that I have brothels because they are legal businesses in Nevada. It’s part of the culture of Nevada for 150 years,” he said.
“People will set aside for a moment their moral beliefs, their religious beliefs, to get somebody that is honest in office,” Hof told Reuters.
David Whitney, pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Pasadena, Maryland, told Christian News Network at the time that he found evangelicals’ willingness to vote for a brothel owner deeply concerning. He pointed to Exodus 18:21, which reads, “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness …”
“I think we ought to vote with the idea that God is going to hold us accountable for that vote that we cast,” he stated. “And so, if we cast a vote for an individual of known immorality, God will hold us accountable for that choice.”
Whitney said that there is nothing wrong with doing a write-in instead of attempting to select the lesser of two evils.
According to the Associated Press, while it is too late for Hof’s name to be removed from the ballot, and while signs will be posted at the polls advising that he has died, it is believed that Hof still could win the election. Should Hof receive the majority vote, reports state, officials in the three counties he would have represented will select a Republican to serve in his place.