2017 EXPO | August 27-30

Legal Panel 2016

Expo16 wed 8907“The 2016 Presidential Election Debate”

Who will be our next U.S. President? Whom should adult owners and operators support with their votes? What potential impact will this election have on the industry at large? These questions and more were answered during the EXPO’s Legal “Election” Panel, which featured club owners Joe Redner and Jerry Westlund, as well as attorney John Weston.
This year, for the first time in the 24-year history of Gentlemen’s Club Expo legal panels, the annual forum didn’t focus on specific legal challenges to our industry, but rather on a more pressing question, which demands our immediate attention. That of which presidential candidate would be better for the adult nightclub industry? The next president will name as many as four U.S. Supreme Court justices and hundreds of federal judges and prosecutors. The makeup of the Federal Court system and the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming years could have a life or death effect on the future of adult businesses so the decision is of paramount importance.
The panel took the form of a debate between two dynamic nationally known club operators, each endorsing a major party candidate. Legendary club operator Joe Redner of Tampa’s Mons Venus Club is an Exotic Dancer Hall of Famer who has long been politically active, running for elected office himself several times, including a current campaign for a Florida State Senate seat as an independent. Redner is voting for Hillary Clinton. Outspoken club operator Jerry Westlund has never been shy to fight legal battles. Westlund, whose Pony Club chain spans the U.S. from California to Indiana, is a fervent Donald Trump supporter.
Editor’s note: Macy John of the Florida chapter of ACE (SEA) filled in to provide the Gary Johnson/Libertarian voice in this panel debate.
Noted industry attorney John Weston, who has long defended adult businesses including arguing seven cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, provided perspective on the legal ramifications of the election.
Expo16 wed 9093Joe Redner
Joe Redner started the debate by noting that an audience member had given him a Trump hat, proclaiming “Make America Great Again.” Redner questioned the hat’s message.
“I want to know when America was great? Give me a year… 67? 87? 75? Taxes were 70% back then. So that’s what made it great, the higher taxes? We had money for things we needed like the Veteran’s Administration and to fund the security of situations like Benghazi. Now they’ve taken away that money and blamed everyone for the lack of security.”
Redner continued, “We had a more socialist government back then, before Reagan started dismantling the measures to protect us against the banks. Bill Clinton and the Bush’s continued to take away our protections, claiming they were socialist and we end up with a recession.”
“This country’s been running on social democracy, not socialism since almost the beginning of our history. Socialism is the key to keeping capitalism from destroying and taking everything.”
Redner explained he is more opposed to Trump than he is for Hillary. “I’m a Bernie man, I’m not a Hillary man. I’m a democratic socialist, a progressive. I believe we need to take care of our fellow human being. I believe Hillary is a typical politician.” But he hastened to add, “But Trump is out and out crazy.”
Redner added, “Religion is our enemy. I put a Mahatma Gandhi quote on my club. It reads, ‘I like your Christ; I don’t like your Christians. They’re nothing like your Christ.’ ”
“Our Religious Right is nothing like Christ. They, the Republicans, are our enemy so I think we should vote for Hillary to keep Trump out and to keep the Religious Right from taking our country.”
John Weston asked Redner to comment on Trump’s assertion that, due to Democratic policies, American jobs and manufacturing have disappeared and that, if elected, he will turn things around.
Redner responded that it’s the fault of earlier trade agreements and not of recent administrations. He suggested taxing manufacturers who take jobs abroad. “Tax them and give the money to the U.S. workers they’re not paying.”
Expo16 wed 9105Jerry Westlund
Jerry Westlund explained that he believes there’s no perfect candidate. He feels Hillary represents the Washington political machine that’s been screwing us for 30 years.
“You see those empty big brick buildings that used to be factories? They’re all over the place,” explained Westlund. “Clinton wants a $15 an hour minimum wage with no tip credit. Big labor’s financing her campaign. And she wants six months of paid maternity leave.”
Weston asked Westlund whether automation and not just moving jobs offshore is responsible for the loss of factory jobs and of other jobs.
Westlund responded, “The Clintons and, quite frankly, the Bush family have not been friends to our industry for years. Trump owns casinos, has dozens of liquor licenses, pays workers comp insurance, has been married three times and just defended naked pictures of his wife as art. How bad can he be for us? Is it worth taking a chance? I think so.”
Redner responded, “If you believe that, I have a bridge I want to sell you.” He continued, “I’d be ashamed to send my people home unable to support their families with a $15 minimum wage. What kind of people are we?”
Macy John, the Communications Director for Florida SEA the state’s adult club association, and Marketing Director for Scarlett’s Cabaret and Vixens Club in Ft. Lauderdale has been an active supporter of a third party candidate, Gary Johnson the Libertarian candidate. John explained that Johnson, a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, was a two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, a Democratic state. He vetoed a record-setting 750 bills, most of which John described as “crony capitalism bills.” He spent considerable time balancing the state’s budget, something uncommon today, John explained. Johnson created more jobs than any other governor of his time. Johnson’s running mate has similar credentials.
“Our Libertarian motto,” John noted, “Is to get Democrats out of your wallet and get Republicans out of your bedroom.”
Johnson will be on the ballot in all 50 states. “Our goal is to break the two-party system. If we get five percent of the vote, we get major party status.” explained John. “There are also 20 Libertarian State Senate candidates and 1,500 candidates for various offices running across the country.”
Westlund noted that Johnson is a great candidate but has zero chance of getting elected and simply takes votes from the major parties.
Weston then asked whether John was concerned that a third party vote could leave the country in a political paralysis, similar to that of 2000 when Ralph Nader ran for president and changed the makeup of Congress.
John responded that 10 state senators have switched from supporting Trump to Johnson and that the Libertarian Party will use 2016 as a building year and look to 2020 or 2024 to break the two-party system. “I think, in voting for Hillary or Trump, you’re not voting for somebody, but against the other candidate,” she said. “Nobody here has said they liked either candidate; they just hate the other more. I want to vote FOR somebody.”
Expo16 wed 8947John Weston
John Weston warned that this is potentially,” A life and death election,” for the adult industry and that he believes, “You have no choice but to make sure… that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in Congress are elected.”
Weston explained that he has always been a Democrat, but loathes the Clintons. And he’s “an equal opportunity loather,” also loathing Trump.
“Hillary is a smart, well educated, disciplined thinker. But she’s certainly lied, distorted or told untruths. I revile the Clintons for their sense that they needn’t comply with ordinary rules, standards and decorum….
 “I think Trump is smart and successful… But he’s not a disciplined thinker… It would seem that we’ve seen daily manifestations of some odd psychological quirks. He seems to be very irascible, very light on the trigger finger and with no compunction to routinely lie or at least misrepresent.”
“Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it,” cautioned Weston, who suggested that Trump’s assertions that he and only he has a simple solution to our nation’s incredibly complex and perhaps unsolvable problems, “are not unfamiliar,” … and are “sheer fascism.
(They are reminiscent of) “Hitler, Mussolini and since we’re here in New Orleans, Huey Long,” said Weston.
Weston noted that while people may differ on economic policy, taxes, foreign policy and other issues, the fact that the Republican Party has been committed to and dominated by the Christian Right for a long time is not up for debate.
“Your industry must view your choice of candidate through that inescapable lens,” explained Weston. “The Religious Right is dedicated to control of women’s orifices and their legislation reflects that… They are basically anti-sex… Anti adult entertainment.”
Weston explained that the next president will appoint the federal judges and prosecutors who will prosecute adult industry cases and those appointments are critical to our survival. And in order to ensure our ability to continue to present adult entertainment, we have no choice but to do everything in our power to get Democrats who will make progressive judicial appointments elected.
Larry Kaplan is the Legal Correspondent for Exotic Dancer Club Bulletin, Executive Director of the ACE of Michigan adult nightclub state trade association, a governmental affairs consultant and a consultant in the sales and purchase of adult nightclubs and adult stores. Contact Larry Kaplan at 313-815-3311 or e-mail kaplanclubsales@gmail.com.
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