That election and a subsequent loss in a runoff marked the first two of three elections Dunn would lose to Spence-Jones in less than five years.
She ran for a second term in November 2009 and upon her victory was immediately suspended from office by Gov. Crist. The state had charged her with grand theft, accusing her of trying to steer $50,000 in government grants to a family business. Those charges would eventually be dropped.
Even while suspended, Spence-Jones easily beat Dunn and others in a special election in January 2010. Once again Crist suspended her from office, after prosecutors charged her with attempting to solicit a bribe from Miami developer Armando Codina.
Spence-Jones was acquitted by a jury, after a lengthy court battle that led to the lead prosecutor eventually being transferred from the state attorney’s public corruption unit.
Before she returned in August 2012, Spence-Jones had missed 21 months in office. That was the basis for her argument that she should be permitted to run for a third term.
But the court disagreed.
“Even though suspended, she was ‘qualified’ to seek and obtain election. The term limitation cannot be read to permit a commissioner to seek election to a third consecutive term simply because, although elected and qualified for two terms, the commissioner failed to serve each day of those terms,” wrote the appeals court.
In December 2012, Spence-Jones filed a federal lawsuit contending State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle and Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado conspired to destroy her political career and reputation. In the lawsuit she accused lead prosecutor Richard Scruggs of fabricating evidence and misleading key witnesses, including Codina.
Rundle and Regalado have denied any wrongdoing.