weather icon Overcast

Federal judge intervenes in Hof dispute with Nye County

Just days before the 2018 primary election the tension between Nye County and Nevada Assembly District 36 candidate Dennis Hof reached a fever pitch and resulted in the county being issued a temporary restraining order by a federal judge.

Additionally, Hof has now filed another lawsuit against the county, alleging that due process was not followed and he was deprived of his right to exercise free speech in the critical moments leading up to the primary.

As detailed in the factual findings listed in the federal order, on June 7 Nye County District Attorney Angela Bello called Hof to notify him that one of his signs was in conflict with Nye County Code Title 17, as a follow-up to a previous notice issued on May 25.

The following afternoon, Bello spoke with Hof’s legal counsel, explaining that mobile signs were not allowed in the county and that a recently approved amendment to title 17 specifically addressed political signs.

However, as Hof has many signs, there was apparently confusion regarding which signs were being referenced. Hof asserted that he did not expect his sign to be confiscated, which is why he took no action prior to the close of business that Friday.

At approximately 5:30 p.m. on June 8, Nye County staff went out to Hof’s property on Homestead Road to remove the political sign in question. By this time the courts had closed for the weekend but that did not stop Hof from reacting. He was able to contact federal judge Richard Boulware II, who apparently felt the matter warranted immediate attention.

The sign that was towed was a small billboard placed on a trailer bed that sits below a large billboard owned by Hof. The large billboard features a pro-Hof ad on one side and an ad against his opponent, incumbent Assemblyman James Oscarson, on the other. The content of the smaller sign consists of an attack ad against Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen, who was running for re-election in the primary as well.

Judge Boulware II convened a special court hearing on June 9 at which Hof’s legal representation was present, as well Bello and Nye County Manager Tim Sutton.

Judge Boulware II determined that due to the lack of a hearing of some sort to address the situation, be it informal or otherwise, as well as the lack of specificity regarding the code violation in the May 25 notice letter, the county, “… procedures used were not constitutionally sufficient.”

Because of the political nature of the sign which the courts found, “could potentially influence prospective voters in the current election cycle,” the court agreed with Hof’s accusation that confiscation of the sign caused him irreparable harm.

Thus, the judge ordered the county to return Hof’s sign to his property by no later than 8 a.m. the next morning and further instructed the county to refrain from removing any of Hof’s other signs without following proper procedure.


On top of the temporary restraining order forcing the county to return the sign, Hof has filed a First Amendment and 14th Amendment lawsuit against the county. This marks the third lawsuit Hof has filed against the county in less than a year.

The latest lawsuit was filed on June 9, naming Nye County, the Nye County Board of Commissioners,Bello in her official capacity, James Oscarson in his personal and official capacity, Dan Schinhofen in his personal and official capacity, Tim Sutton in his personal and official capacity, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office and Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly in her official capacity.

Hof alleges that Schinhofen, along with Oscarson, demanded county manager Sutton have the sign towed and Sutton subsequently issued that directive. Hof was outraged by the move, calling it a blatant attempt to stymie his rights. The lawsuit claims that not only was the county’s action in removing his sign illegal but that the entire code the county was using as its basis for enforcement was unconstitutional.

Nye County, however, has stated that the action taken was no more than a regular part of code enforcement and Hof was not the only candidate noticed about code violations.

Nye County Public Information Officer Arnold Knightly explained, “The county began enforcing non-conforming signs of all kinds before election season came into full swing. We continued this enforcement as the election cycle began.

Over the last few weeks, we have notified several candidates that their signs were out of compliance. Most have voluntarily removed them. The sign at issue had been cited by code compliance but was not removed in a timely manner and was subsequently towed.”

When reached for comment regarding the situation, Oscarson stated that he did not understand why Hof was dragging him into the quagmire as he declared he had no hand in the matter.

“Neither I, nor my office, have anything to do with local ordinances or the enforcement of local ordinances, so I have no idea why he would involve my name in his most recent endless threats of litigation,” Oscarson responded. “My opponent appears to believe that he can do whatever he wants by threatening people with constant lawsuits. The voters of Assembly District 36 see through the tactics of a bully.”

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Salvation Army hit by thieves

As Pahrump’s Salvation Army prepares to serve families in need during the holiday season, approximately $500 worth of new toys set aside for its annual Angel Tree program were recently stolen, along with Christmas decorations and items being stored for the Kiwanis Club and Pahrump’s Sleep In Heavenly Peace organization.

Pahrump community comes together for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for appreciation and for hundreds of Pahrump area residents and visitors, there was plenty to be grateful for this year at the Pahrump Holiday Task Force’s annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

Pahrump Valley Academy virtual town hall set for Saturday

Throughout much of 2019 and into 2020, a group of local residents hoping to add a new educational option to the valley worked diligently toward establishing Pahrump Valley Academy, which would have been the valley’s very first public charter school, only to have the proposal nixed in early 2020.

Rotary Club encouraging students to read

The Pahrump Rotary Club has performed countless community service projects since its inception in 1987.

Bowling for Our Wounded Warriors – Fundraiser set for Dec. 5

Donning a U.S. armed forces uniform is something that comes with great risk and the men and women who step up to take on the challenge of protecting America through military service often come home with injuries, both the visible and the invisible kind.

Man calls 911 while speaking to deputies, report says

Nye County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested a man who allegedly called 911 for a complaint about loud music at a residence along South Chippewa Street last week but ended up getting arrested himself.

Development of Pahrump’s Kellogg Park tracking right along

Development of Pahrump’s newest park, Kellogg Park on the southern end of the valley, continues to move along steadily, with a variety of milestones reached in recent months and officials with the town of Pahrump and Nye County now setting their sights on the next steps of the development process.

PLAC to decide on Rough Hat recommendations; meeting Nov. 30 in Pahrump

Throughout its many years, the Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Committee hasn’t seen a whole lot of community involvement, with the group historically hosting its monthly meetings amid almost empty audiences.

Together With Veterans hosting SWOT assessment meeting in Pahrump

The men and women who have served in the United States military have given of themselves, made sacrifices on a daily basis and put the safety of others before themselves in order to protect America but when service comes to an end and they return to civilian life, the transition can be jarring.

Beatty Advisory Board deals with trails, racing, blue light

There will be no informal election to choose appointees to the Beatty Town Advisory Board. Randy Reed and Erika Gerling, whose terms expire at the end of the year, were the only people to submit letters of interest, so the Board voted, at their Nov. 22 meeting, to forward their names to the Board of County Commissioners for reappointment.