Miami-Dade Residents Seek to Oust Convicted Commissioner

NBC 6's Willard Shepard reports.

(Published Monday, Oct. 9, 2017)

North Bay Village, a normally quiet Miami-Dade city of about 7,000 residents, is now home to a political firestorm over allegations of voter fraud and blackmail linked to its at-large commissioner.

Residents allege Commissioner Dr. Douglas Hornsby lied on his voter registration forms, while Hornsby said he's the victim of extortion attempts.

The NBC 6 Investigators first revealed the questions about Commissioner Hornsby.

Five Village residents decided enough is enough and will go to court on Tuesday to ask a judge to bring the political controversy to an end.

“We have a commissioner right now who, as far as I legally understand it, is not eligible to serve on the Commission,” Laura Cantabriga, one of the five residents filing the court action, said. “He has been dishonest."

When leaving a Commission meeting months ago, Hornsby chose not to answer our question about how he filled out his voter registration applications with Miami-Dade elections. Both forms show Hornsby didn’t mark the box asking if he was a convicted felon. However, it was Hornsby himself who told residents at a prior Commission meeting that he was a felon.

In May, Hornsby stated: “I've got a drug conviction for cocaine back in Tennessee.”

Despite admitting his earlier indiscretion, Village residents will move ahead in court.

“There has been a cloud of scandal hanging over North Bay Village for far too long and until we can lift that cloud and get integrity, clarity and truth, this Village will never be able to move forward," Cantabriga said.

J.C. Planas is the attorney representing the five residents.

“We filed an action basically to ask the court to remove Douglas Hornsby because since he was unqualified to serve office when he was appointed, that appointment is void from the inception and he needs to be removed from office," Planas said.

Fueling allegations of voting fraud, Hornsby said he’s been voting for years in Florida. In May, the commissioner told residents: “I've voted for years in Tennessee and then 20 years here in Florida.”

Hornsby claims someone is trying to blackmail him. North Bay Village Police Chief Carlos Noriega told us he's investigating the circumstances. Mayor Connie Leon Kreps worries all Village business done in 2017 with Hornsby votes could be declared void.

“Well, if he was not legally able to be appointed in January, then all those votes are not valid and that is very concerning to me because there are items such as the budget that are very important to the Village,” Leon said.

The mayor previously asked the commissioner to ask for an independent review of the situation from the Florida Attorney General, but that attempt was rejected in a vote that included Hornsby.

We reached out to Hornsby, his attorney and the city attorney. None responded to our request for comment before Tuesday's court hearing.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney has also been looking into what is going on. The court in downtown Miami will begin to make its own evaluation about what should happen.

“This is about the rule of law and I don’t believe it was followed," Cantabriga said.