It’s hard out here for a prostitution lobbyist.
George Flint, who has represented the Select Legal Brothels of Nevada for the last 26 years, is still reeling from Sen. Harry Reid’s dramatic call for a statewide ban on the world’s oldest profession. Flint, 77, told TPM he was particularly shocked because he and Reid have known each other for over 40 years, going back to the Senator’s earliest days in state politics — yet he’s never heard him complain about the business.
“We’re more or less personal friends and I’m completely blown out of the water,” he said. “I have no idea what it’s tied to. It’s nothing like he’s ever done before. We’re all trying to get a handle on it.”
Flint identified Reid’s speech as “probably the most unique challenge we’ve faced so far,” but predicted it would gain little traction in the state legislature. Already the governor, state senate majority leader, and Sen. John Ensign have come out in support of leaving prostitution laws to the state’s individual counties, a handful of which currently allow legalized brothels.
Nonetheless, he’s taking the threat seriously because of what he calls the two biggest dangers in the legislature to the brothel business: freshmen and Mormons.
“There are a few Mormons in the legislature and one might run with it. [Reid] is not a fan of prostitution because Mormons believe the only sex blessed by God is procreational. That’s a canon of the church and I respect that, but generally Mormons keep it to their own group,” Flint said. “Also there are 20 freshman because many were term limited and one of them might try to get involved in the issue.”
He added that while prostitution enjoyed widespread tacit support among lawmakers, most are not quick to broadcast their backing.
“It’s just a subject everyone avoids and tries to stay away from,” he said. “When I bring it up most guys get the hives or the shakes.”
Sex-for-hire isn’t the only relationship Flint’s lobbying shop specializes in. He represents Reno’s famously easygoing marriage business, lobbying on the industry’s behalf as well as for his own Chapel of the Bells, which offers full service weddings for as little as under $200. He said he took on the prostitution business — it’s his only other lobbying gig — when the best man at his wedding asked for help with his brothel.
“Some legislators thought it was insane to register and I took some heat for it,” he said, “but I’m pleased to say we’ve taken care of the brothel industry.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.