The owner of an Atlantic City strip club is waging a First Amendment battle over his right to place brochures from his business at an Atlantic City Expressway rest stop.
Anthony Ariemma, owner of Bare Exposure on Pacific Avenue, has filed a lawsuit against two state government agencies — the South Jersey Transportation Authority and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority — and HMS Host, of Bethesda Md., the company that manages the Atlantic City Expressway rest stop, for pulling brochures for his business.
Ariemma's attorney Mike Daily said the establishment paid $5,000 to display a brochure for his business at the Frank S. Farley Service Area in 2012 but was told after Christmas by HMS Host that the brochures would be pulled.
Daily filed a federal lawsuit Dec. 28 claiming Bare Exposure has a First Amendment right to advertise at the facility since it is operated by the South Jersey Transportation Authority and visited by motorists who travel the public highway and pay tolls to access the road.
Under federal law, government agencies are not allowed to restrict free speech, he said.
If a private business had pulled the brochures, Daily said the First Amendment issue would not apply because they do not have to abide by the same standards of free speech.
"If this was a business on Atlantic Avenue and they said no, they could do that," he said.
Last month Daily said they discussed changing the brochure with HMS Host to include a woman kissing another woman's neck. HMS Host said that would not be allowed, Daily said. The attorney said his client was fine with using the original brochure but then he was told their pamphlets would no longer be allowed at all.
The brochures featured a picture of a woman's face and contained no nudity, Daily said. A copy of the article included in the lawsuit promotes the business as “Atlantic City's Only All Nude Entertainment” and highlights “All Nude Couch Dances” and “5 Intimate Champagne Rooms.”
"Our main objective is to get the brochures back there," Daily said, "This is a very important (place) for advertising."
The business also places its brochures at the welcome center at mile marker 3.5 on the expressway, which is operated by the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority — another state agency, Daily said. Those brochures have not been pulled, he said.
The SJTA owns the facility and the expressway. Daily said there is a sign in the lobby posting the meeting notices for the Turnpike Authority board, but spokesman Thomas Feeney said they only operate the Garden State Parkway and the SJTA handles the Expressway.
Feeney said the Turnpike Authority also contracts with HMS Host to manage the rest stops.
Feeney and SJTA spokesman Kevin Rehmann declined to comment on the suit and said they were unaware of the issue until contacted by the media. A call to HMS Host was not returned.
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