POLITICS

State Rep. Mike Horner resigns after being linked to brothel in Orange County

 

A Republican state representative has resigned after his name surfaced during an investigation of a Central Florida prostitution ring.

SEX SCANDALS AND THE STATEHOUSE

Here are some other state lawmakers who left office in the wake of sex-related scandals:

•  State Rep. Richard Steinberg, a Miami Beach Democratic, resigned from the Florida House last February amid a Secret Service investigation into suggestive messages he had sent to a federal prosecutor.

•  State Rep. Bob Allen, a Republican from Merritt Island, resigned from the Florida House after was convicted of solicitation in November 2007. He was accused of offering a male police officer $20 in exchange for performing oral sex on him.

•  State Rep. Marvin Couch, a Republican from Oviedo, resigned March 1, 1996, just days after being arrested in Orlando for soliciting oral sex in public during the middle of the day. Couch, married and the father of six children, was given probation for two misdemeanor charges.

SOURCE: Miami Herald


Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

State Rep. Mike Horner, a Republican from Kissimmee, abruptly resigned his seat in the Florida House on Monday following reports that he was a client at a Central Florida brothel.

Horner, 44, was a solid favorite to win a third term in District 42 in Osceola and Polk counties. His name surfaced during the investigation of alleged brothel owner, Mark David Risner, 54, who faces racketeering and prostitution charges and is accused of running a prostitution ring out of his Orange County home. Investigators found hundreds of names as they investigated Risner’s operation, and Horner shut down his campaign website shortly after his name was publicized.

Republican and Democratic political sources have told the Miami Herald that the prostitution ring included prostitutes catering to gay clients.

Horner is not charged with a crime.

“We’re not interested in the representative,” said Bernie Presha, a spokesperson for the state attorney’s office in Orlando, which has not released details of their investigation into the alleged prostitution ring.

Said Horner in a statement: "I deeply regret decisions I made that are causing my family unjustifiable pain and embarrassment. While current press accounts from this morning are erroneous, my family still deserves better from me, as do all my friends, supporters and constituents. So today I am announcing I will no longer seek reelection to the Florida House."

Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, called Horner’s action "the right decision."

“It is in the best interest of our state and his family,” Weatherford said in a statement. “As elected officials, we are held to a high standard and no member of the Florida House is above that standard. I accept Mike’s decision and offer my prayers during this difficult time for him and his family."

Horner was an affable and low-key legislator and, with high turnover in the House membership, would have had a major assignment in Weatherford’s administration, beginning Nov. 20. Elected in 2008, he served for the past two years as chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee for transportation and economic development.

Married with one son, he has been president of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce since 1996.

Under Florida law, the Republican Party can name a replacement candidate for Horner, but Horner’s name will remain on the ballot, said MaryJane Arrington, Osceola County’s supervisor of elections. By law, any votes cast for Horner would be credited to the replacement candidate.

Horner was easily expected to win reelection to the House. His campaign had raised $223,901, far beyond his Democratic opponent, Eileen Game of Frostproof.

According to Game’s campaign filings, she has raised $16,390, with most of the money from personal loans to herself.

Game, a business executive, did not immediately use the scandal to go on the offensive against the name that will be on the ballot next to hers.

“This is a deeply personal matter for Mike and his family,” Game said in a statement. “My prayers go out to them as they sort through how to move ahead with this matter.”

Democrats hold a registration advantage in the district, but more than one in five voters are independents. The district’s voters preferred Gov. Rick Scott over Democratic candidate Alex Sink in 2010, giving the governor 52.5 percent of the vote. In 2008, the district narrowly went to John McCain, who beat Obama by 254 votes out of more than 61,000 cast.

Toluse Olorunnipa can be reached at tolorunnipa@MiamiHerald.com and on Twitter at @ToluseO. Steve Bousquet can be reached at sbousquet@tampabay.com and on Twitter at @SteveBousquet.

Read more Political Currents stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category