Adult Store Owner 'Dr. John' Running for Office

Tod Hunter
LINCOLN, Neb. — Sex shop owner John Haltom — whose Doctor John's Lingerie Boutique stores have been the focus of controversy and legal action through the Midwest — is running for City Council in Lincoln, even though his past obscenity convictions may be a stumbling block.

Halton's Utah felony conviction may make him ineligible to run for local office in Nebraska without first getting a pardon. Haltom was sentenced to 30 days in jail in Salt Lake City and three years of probation in January 2004 after being convicted of selling pornography to a minor in a 2000 police sting. He also served a nine-month jail term in Omaha in 2003 for selling obscenity, a misdemeanor.

The Nebraska Constitution bars those convicted of a felony from holding public office without first having their civil rights restored. Lancaster County Election Commissioner David Shively said the law would allow a challenge of Haltom's candidacy based on his apparent criminal record.

Shively said he accepted Haltom's filing for office because he is registered to vote, as required to run for office; and because he was unaware that Haltom had been convicted of a felony.

Haltom freely acknowledged his felony background when interviewed this week about his candidacy. He said he became eligible to vote in Nebraska in January under a state law that allows convicted felons to return to the polls two years after completing their sentence.

Haltom owns four Doctor John's stores, which sell lingerie, adult videos and sexual aids in Grand Island, Lincoln and Omaha, Neb.; he also has two stores in St. Louis, Mo.; and one in Illinois. He owns four similar stores in partnership with his parents in Missouri. Seven other Dr. John's stores, in Utah, Iowa and Colorado, went to his partner when they divided their business.

"Just because I sell adult material, I'm not a sleazebag," he said. "The people that buy my materials are married and have kids. They use it to spice up their lives."

Haltom lived in Omaha, California and Utah before opening his first Lincoln store about seven years ago. He lives in Lincoln now and said he likes Lincoln partly because he never has been prosecuted for obscenity there but mostly because he thinks it's a good community.

"Omaha's been very good to me, but I like Lincoln because it's smaller and has a small-town feeling," he said. "It's got that Mayberry feeling."

Haltom, who proudly points out that the adult industry has led efforts to protect the 1st Amendment in the U.S., said he feels it's time for him to move on to other fights, to control government spending and taxes.

"I've been fighting for the right for adults to be able to watch whatever they want to watch in their homes," he said. "To me, that fight's over with."