Spence-Jones Reinstated To Miami Commission

Michelle Spence-Jones To Resume District 5 Seat

MIAMI - Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order late Wednesday afternoon that will return Michelle Spence-Jones to office as the District 5 Miami commissioner.

Now that corruption charges have been dropped and Spence-Jones has been reinstated, the dynamics at City Hall could change.

"Definitely tears of joy -- I'm so thankful for all the people that prayed for me," Spence-Jones said.

From the beginning, Spence-Jones called the legal onslaught against her a "witch hunt."

"I didn't do anything wrong," Spence-Jones said.

"We just don't have the evidence we once had," said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle.

The charges that were dropped Tuesday alleged that Spence-Jones diverted county grants to her own family business. A prior bribery case alleged that Spence-Jones sold her vote. A jury found her not guilty of that charge.

In both cases, the key witnesses deemed to have damning evidence backtracked or redefined their stories. In the bribery case, it was developer Armando Codina. In the county money case, it was Spence-Jones' mentor, former county commission Chairwoman Barbara Carey Shuler.

"They both said they were lied to and defrauded and tricked by the prosecutor," said Spence-Jones' attorney, Peter Raben.

Spence-Jones will now retake the seat that Richard Dunn has held since her departure.

"Philosophically and idealistically and politically, we pretty much line up," Dunn said.

Questions remain over whether Spence-Jones will back the ouster of embattled Police Chief Miguel Exposito over how he has handled police-involved shootings in her district.

"I need to look at the situation from a holistic standpoint," Spence-Jones said.

It also remains to be seen with whom she will align among the three commissioners she has yet to work with.

"We still are facing a $61 million deficit, and we need to have a balanced budget by the end of September," said Commissioner Frank Carollo.

"Brief her on everything that's going on, especially the budget, and we're just waiting for her," said Mayor Tomas Regalado.

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