State Rep. Mike Horner named in RICO investigation; won't seek re-election



CENTRAL FLORIDA - State Attorney's Office officials said Republican state Rep. Mike Horner, of Kissimmee, has been connected to a case involving prostitution and racketeering, but has not been arrested.

Prosecutors said Horner is named in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act investigation.

WFTV learned that investigators from the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation talked with Horner after his name was found on the clientele list of a suspected Orange County prostitution operation.

Court documents show 54-year-old Mark David Risner was arrested and charged with running a prostitution operation out of an east Orange County house, which Risner owns, in the Royal Estates neighborhood near Dean Road and Colonial Drive.

Documents list the names of four women who officials say are involved in the prostitution ring.

On Monday afternoon Horner announced, through a news release, that he has decided not to run for re-election in November. (Read the release)

"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," Horner said in the statement released to WFTV Monday afternoon.

Horner is a husband and a father. He is a fifth generation Floridian, a Sanford native and has been influential in central Florida and in Tallahassee.

An official email went out from Republican House of Representatives members and candidates, saying that Horner "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."

Court documents allege the prostitution ring was operating out of Risner's property from May 2010 to April 2012.

Risner has posted $10,000 bail and is out of jail.

WFTV was told that those on the clientele list will not be arrested because the clients were not the focus of the investigation and that there is no direct evidence against them.

Horner has also been the president of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce for 16 years and he is still listed on the chamber's website as president. But, WFTV's Kathi Belich learned board members are trying to arrange an emergency meeting.

Because Horner, a Republican, has removed himself from of the race for re-election to the House District 42 seat, a special committee will meet to discuss putting someone on the ballot in his place.

According to elections officials, the Republican Party will have until 5 p.m. Oct. 2 to decide who, if anyone will take Horner's spot in the race.

Officials said that it's too late to make changes to the ballots, so Horner's name will still be on the ballot when voters go the polls, but if the party selects a candidate, the ballot will include a note indicating that a vote for Horner is a vote for the newly named candidate.

If the party can't find anyone to run against Eileen Game, the ballot will contain a note indicating that Horner has withdrawn from the race and Game is running unopposed.

Absentee ballots were set to be processed and sealed on Tuesday, but because of Horner's resignation elections officials will wait until Oct. 2 to see which note will be included with the ballots.