Dennis Hof, the controversial brothel owner who in June won the Republican primary for a seat in the Nevada state legislature, has died at the age of 72. Hof’s campaign manager tweeted the news Tuesday afternoon. “I just confirmed with Nye County sheriff’s deputy that Dennis Hof passed away this morning,” wrote Chuck Muth. “No other details at this point. I’m heading out to Love Ranch Vegas now. Official statement will come once I learn more.”
Though Hof’s cause of death has yet to be determined, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office announced on Facebook that Hof was found dead at his Love Ranch brothel in Crystal, Nevada. According to the Nevada Independent, Nye County spokesman Arnold Knightly said Hof “had gone to sleep and did not wake up.”
Hof’s death comes just two days after the reality star-cum-politician turned 72. According to the Nevada Independent, he celebrated his birthday less than 24 hours before his death. In attendance were porn star Ron Jeremy, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio. On Monday, Muth tweeted photos of all three at a campaign rally for Hof in Pahrump, Nevada. Muth also wrote that Fox News host Tucker Carlson called into the rally. In June, Hof told Rolling Stone that he and Carlson texted daily as he was seeking the Republican nomination to represent Nevada’s 36th assembly district.
.@ElectHof & @GroverNorquist interviewing w/BBC after big Hof campaign rally in Pahrump featuring Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Ron Jeremy & phone-in from @TuckerCarlson. Only in Nevada! pic.twitter.com/9kLTUL9hfb
— Chuck Muth (@ChuckMuth) October 16, 2018
Though many prominent Nevada Republicans refused to endorse Hof, he was still expected to win the general election to represent the deep-red district. His challenger, Democrat Lesia Romanov, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she was “stunned” by the news. “This is not the turn I would expect,” she said. “I’m just stunned. This is not anything that I would have ever guessed would happen. My heart goes out to those who care about him. It’s a crazy turn of events … Obviously he was my opponent, but I would not wish anything like this on a person. We are just verifying the news. We’re very surprised.”
BREAKING: @DennisHof’s opponent @lesiaromanov in the #Nevada Assembly District 36 race reacts to news of Hof’s death. “I’m stunned. This is not the turn I would’ve expected.” @reviewjournal pic.twitter.com/Y8DPtQTzWp
— Ramona Giwargis (@RamonaGiwargis) October 16, 2018
According to Nevada state law, because Hof died after July 4th, his name will remain on the ballot, albeit with a note that he is deceased. If he is still able to win the election, the board of county commissioners are required to fill the seat with someone of the same political party.
Prior to running for office, Hof starred in the HBO reality show Cathouse and penned a book titled The Art of the Pimp. His brothels became a subject of controversy when NBA all-star Lamar Odom was found unconscious after a four-day bender at Hof’s Love Ranch in 2015. Branding himself the “Trump of Pahrump,” his campaign for a seat in the Nevada state legislature attracted several high-profile supporters, including Norquist, Carlson and Trump adviser Roger Stone. “It was enormous. Absolutely enormous,” Hof told Rolling Stone of Stone’s influence on his campaign. He’s the Christopher Columbus of politics in my mind. All I’m doing is following him to the new world.”
After Hof defeated incumbent James Oscarson in the Republican primary, his campaign came under heavy scrutiny. He was plagued by issues relating to his ability to hold brothel licenses, as well as numerous sexual assault allegations from former prostitutes. Hof responded by going on the offensive, and even teased a run for governor or lieutenant governor in 2022.
One of his accusers, a former Love Ranch employee named Jennifer O’Kane, didn’t react to the news of Hof’s death with quite as much sympathy as Romanov. “My rapist is dead,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He doesn’t get three square meals a day. There’s no more drugging other girls. There’s no raping other girls.”