BROOKSVILLE — Two years ago, Nick Nicholson made national headlines when the then-Hernando County commissioner was charged with giving room and board to prostitutes in exchange for sex and running a brothel from his Spring Hill home.
After the 2018 arrest, Nicholson, a Republican, was blasted by the local Republican leadership. He was suspended by the governor and resigned his seat. As a first-time offender facing misdemeanor charges, he ended up taking a plea deal and paid a fine of $729.
Now he wants his old job back.
He filed paperwork early Monday, the start of official qualifying for local political offices, to run again for the District 1 commission seat in a crowded field with three other Republicans who have also pre-qualified. There is one Democrat who also filed Monday running for the seat and formal qualifying for office ends at noon on Friday.
In a prepared statement released Monday, Nicholson said he was looking forward to getting back to the job he did for six years, which were "six of the happiest years’' of his life. He noted that he was always the voice of citizens rather than the establishment.
He mentions that there had been "personal problems which have since been resolved'' and that he had previously chosen to resign, "so as not to distract from doing my job as county commissioner.''
During the 2018 controversy, Nicholson made headlines as the lurid details of his relationships with women he met at local strip clubs grew into forays involving drugs and sex that came to the attention of law enforcement. Those details were included in pages of investigative reports, photos, audio recordings and even cell phone videos Nicholson had of himself with one of the women.
One of the two women living in his rented home said he made her his “sex slave.” An audio recording she made of a phone conversation Nicholson had with a fellow Hernando commissioner, released during the investigation, revealed inside details of the factions within the commission.
The criminal charges weren’t the first time Nicholson’s relationship with strippers made the news.
In 2012, just before he won his first term on the commission, Nicholson had been investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for a relationship with another stripper in which a child in the woman’s care was seriously sickened by ingesting a piece of her crack cocaine.
Nicholson was not charged in that case, which didn’t come to light until 2015. He apologized then for poor judgment but would not bow to pressure to resign the seat. He won reelection for a second term in 2016.
The Hernando County Republican executive committee will not support him in his new run for the seat, said Jeff Holcomb, chairman of the committee and a sitting Hernando County commissioner. Holcomb had called for Nicholson’s resignation before, and he said his pattern of behavior did not make him a good representative for the people.
"I think the voters of Hernando County deserve better,'' Holcomb said Monday.