Politics & Government

Florida lawmaker resigns after name linked to brothel

TALLAHASSEE -- State Rep. Mike Horner, a Republican from Kissimmee, has abruptly resigned his seat in the Florida House following reports linking his name to a prostitution investigation in Central Florida.

"I deeply regret decisions I made that are causing my family unjustifiable pain and embarrassment," Horner said in a statement. "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."

Horner, 44, was a solid favorite to win a third term in District 42 in Osceola and Polk counties. His name surfaced on a client list of an alleged brothel owner, Mark Risner, who faces racketeering and prostitution charges and is accused of running a brothel out of his Orange County home. Investigators found hundreds of names, and Horner shut down his campaign website shortly after his name was publicized.

House Speaker Designate Will Weatherford issued a statement Monday calling Horner’s action "the right decision."

"Today, I received word of Rep. Mike Horner’s decision to drop out of his race for re-election," Weatherford said. "I believe he made the right decision. It is in the best interest of our state and his family. 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."

In the statement, sent through the Republican Party of Florida, Weatherford said: "This will be the only statement I will issue regarding this matter."

Horner was an affable and low-key legislator and would have had an important assignment in Weatherford’s administration, which will begin Nov. 20. He is married with one child. Elected in 2008, for the past two years he was chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee for transportation and economic development. He has long been active in the Osceola County Chamber of Commerce.

Under Florida law, the Republican Party can name a replacement candidate for Horner, and if Horner’s name remains on the Nov. 6 ballot, any votes cast for Horner would be credited to a replacement candidate. Democrat Eileen Game of Frostproof is also seeking the District 42 House seat in November.