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The Mustang Ranch, just miles outside of Reno, Nevada was the first legalized brothel in 1971. This led to the legalization of brothel prostitution in 10 of 17 counties in Nevada. Mustang Ranch became Nevada’s largest brothel and the most profitable. It closed in 1999 and was re-opened five miles away in 2005 with a new owner. The current Mustang Ranch brothel owner is Lance Gilman. He also is sales and marketing director of the nearby 107,000-acre Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, which touts itself as the world’s largest such facility. Guess what? Now he’s in politics. Is it a conflict of interest?

In the election last week, Gilman defeated fellow Republican Mathew Conley 62 percent to 38 percent Tuesday to win a seat on the Storey County commission. Gilman will represent the district covering the northern part of the county where his brothel is located.

As a County Commissioner, “you are authorized and required to make policy for the county. Policy-making means defining high-level goals and long-range outcomes for county government. This includes choosing the direction, the ways and the means to achieve those outcomes and to guide the decision making process leading to them.”

No one seems to see him being in this postion as a problem, but when I first heard about his newly elected position last week, I cringed. He touts himself as a “small business owner,” whatever that means, considering the money flowing through, but whatever- he’s in the business of selling women to men for sex.

Legalized prostitution has its pros and cons. Having it legal can be safer for the women working in prostitution and it can give those women more rights, but there are also cons. Prostitution creates a setting where crimes against women become a commercial enterprise- it’s impossible to entirely protect someone whose source of income exposes them to the possibility of rape. In both rape and prostitution, women are viewed as sexual objects for men. Those objects can either be bought or stolen.

Having a person who profits from a brothel in a position to make policy for where that brothel resides is absolutely a conflict of interest. He will be able to change the laws to meet the needs of his business. Those laws could inevitably negatively affect the women working at those brothels. It is dangerous for him to be in that position of government and irresponsible for it to be allowed.

Policy-making describes outcomes; it describes what you want. How your ideas are realized is administration.”

It’s inevitable that Lance Gillman will make decisions that favor his business- which is legally profiting from women working in prostitution. It’s a conflict of interest for him to be in the position he is now in. Hopefully that won’t jeopardize the safety of the women working there in that county and in his “ranch.”