Dennis Hof, the Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for state assembly, died Tuesday at one of his brothels after a birthday party, officials said. He was 72.
Hof, a candidate for the state Assembly in a district in southern Nevada, died in his sleep in the hours after a celebration that featured pornography star Ron Jeremy, former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, according to his campaign manager Chuck Muth.
The Nye County Sheriff’s office said Tuesday that it was investigating Hof’s death. He was found at the Love Ranch in Crystal Tuesday morning by Jeremy, who went to wake him for a meeting, police and Muth said.
“We had a wonderful event last night,” Muth told the Reno Gazette Journal. “He was having the time of his life.”
Hof’s attention-grabbing career caught perhaps its biggest break when HBO decided to broadcast a reality television show about one of his brothels, the Moonlite Bunny Ranch near Carson City, Nev.
Hof, along with many of his female employees, was a lively presence on the racy show, which regularly featured nude scenes as part of its behind-the-curtain peek at life and work at a brothel. The show began to air on the network in 2005 and was a regular feature of its “late-night” offerings for years, before the network axed its pornographic content earlier this year.
It was just one of many stints in the limelight for Hof, who had a knack for stunts that attracted wide media attention. He posted bail for Liberace’s former lover, Scott Thorson, in 2013, after Thorson took up residence at the Bunny Ranch. He hosted a “Get My Grandpa Laid" contest on the Howard Stern show that year as well, though the grandfather who won the contest died at a casino steakhouse after traveling to Nevada but before he made it to the brothel.
Hof called it “one of the saddest days in Bunny Ranch history."
“I’m always looking for a new angle and something funny to keep my name and the name of the Bunny Ranch in the national media," Hof told the Reno Gazette Journal in 2015.
He rode his fame to a successful candidacy on the Republican ticket for a state assembly seat after ousting the incumbent in the primary. But his foray into politics brought greater scrutiny to his businesses, one of which had its brothel license suspended earlier this year, as well as his background.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported earlier this year that multiple former prostitutes accused Hof of sexual assault earlier this year. The cases were never prosecuted. According to USA Today, Hof denied the allegations.
He won the Republican primary for the seat in June, crediting President Trump for his unusual candidacy.
“It’s all because Donald Trump was the Christopher Columbus for me,” Hof said. “He found the way, and I jumped on it.”
Hof’s name will remain on the ballot for the upcoming election. If he is voted into office, the county commissions for the areas he would have represented will meet to select another Republican, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
His Democratic opponent, Las Vegas educator Lesia Romanov, told the newspaper she was stunned by his death.
“This is not anything that I would have ever guessed would happen,” she said. “My heart goes out to those who care about him. Just a crazy turn of events."