Commissioner Controversy Heats Up with Ineligible Voter Letter - NBC 6 South Florida
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Commissioner Controversy Heats Up with Ineligible Voter Letter

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 6's Willard Shepard reports.

    (Published Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017)

    Dr. Douglas Hornsby is currently a member of the North Bay Village Commission, but the NBC6 Investigators have learned multiple agencies are evaluating if he is eligible to serve.

    In July, Miami Dade Elections wrote Hornsby a letter informing him that “your voter registration is ineligible… your name has been removed from the voting system…” The letter from the head of the Elections Department, Christina White, informed Hornsby that he was ineligible to vote from the time he first registered in Florida in 1998.

    In May, we first reported on the growing controversy involving Hornsby. He revealed at a commission meeting that he had a felony drug conviction. And he alleged he was being blackmailed.

    “This is somebody on the outside trying to get me,” he told the audience in the recorded meeting.

    FDLE told us it’s investigating that claim.

    The NBC 6 Investigators found the documents Hornsby signed when he twice registered to vote in Florida. On both occasions, he marked he wasn’t a convicted felon.

    Records show Hornsby’s voting rights were restored in Tennessee in 2005.

    Hornsby filled out a new application in Florida after getting the letter from Miami-Dade County. He was issued a new voter card in mid-July.

    When questioned by NBC 6 Investigator Willard Shepard, Hornsby wouldn’t respond instead he continued on his way into a commission meeting to take his seat on the dais—a place where for the last 11 months he has been voting on important matters like the budget and future development projects.

    Some residents are calling for the circus to stop in their traditionally quiet village by Biscayne Bay.

    “In this moment, it’s not my commissioner,” resident Raul Turo said.

    He’s one of five people suing in an effort to get Hornsby removed. Toro also filed a complaint with the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission.

    “That chair belongs to people,” Toro said. “Don’t lie and he lied to us.”

    The controversy over Hornsby has divided a community normally known for its stunning water views and not turmoil at the North Bay Village Hall.

    It also appears to have cost the Village Attorney his job. Robert Switkes advised the commission in the spring to reaffirm Hornsby’s role on the commission because of the brewing controversy about his eligibility to vote. Switkes was fired by the commission Tuesday. Hornsby was the only commissioner who voted to keep him. In a parting shot, Switkes told the commission he was being retaliated against for informing police about the blackmail allegations. North Bay Village Mayor Connie Lee Kreps denies that was the reason he was fired from serving the village.

    Former state prosecutor Herbert Erving Walker, III looked at all the documents collected by the NBC 6 Investigators. He believes White’s decision that Hornsby was not a registered voter at the time he took office in January means he shouldn’t be able to serve.

    “It would seem to me that letter from Elections Director White to Mr. Hornsby is the smoking gun and results in Mr. Hornsby making a false and perjured statement to the Miami-Dade Board of Elections,” Walker said.

    “Everything he did as a commissioner while sitting on the commission, every election, and every vote that he took would be null and void,” Walker says.

    That’s exactly what Mayor Kreps is worried about.

    “If it’s determined that he’s not valid or illegally sitting on the Commission, then we’re going to have some work to be done and review all those votes that were taken,” the Mayor said.

    Hornsby’s attorney, Bruce Fleisher, said he can’t discuss the situation because of the pending litigation.

    Two of the Commissioners, Eddie Lim and Andrea Jackson, in May voted along with Hornsby to keep him on the Commission after he told them about the drug conviction.

    Jackson told us “no comment.” Lim never responded to our request for his input.