Storey County officials plead with state to let brothels reopen

Officials from Nye and Storey counties pleaded with the governor’s coronavirus task force Thursday to let them reopen their legal, licensed brothels.

John Koenig, chairman of the Nye County Commission, said massage parlors, bars and every other legal business in the county is open except for brothels.

Las Vegas lawyer Deanna Forbush told task force members brothels remain closed, “with no rational basis provided for the closure.”

“We ask you treat all businesses with the same criteria,” she said.

Forbush argued keeping brothels closed is arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional. She said the state has not shown that keeping legal, licensed brothels shut down serves any public purpose. She said data, not personal prejudices, must be the basis for decision on whether a business can open and the data supports the brothel operators who have developed safety plans.

Lance Gilman, a Storey County commissioner and owner of the Mustang Ranch brothel east of Reno, said his brothel has developed “a significant mitigation and enforcement plan” that will keep workers and customers safe but the state has refused to respond to that plan. That commission, with Gilman abstaining, voted to support reopening Mustang this week.

He pointed out that until the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center was developed, Mustang was, “the only significant economic driver in Storey County.” Keeping it shut down, he argued, amounts to the state “picking winners and losers.”

Because the issue was not on the task force agenda, the panel was unable to take any action on the brothel issue.


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