Dennis Poised to Resign

By Saunders, Jim | The Florida Times Union, August 20, 1999 | Go to article overview

Dennis Poised to Resign


Saunders, Jim, The Florida Times Union


Facing little choice after her conviction for misusing tax dollars, state Rep. Willye Dennis plans to resign today from her Jacksonville legislative seat, House Speaker John Thrasher said yesterday.

Dennis' resignation, which will be submitted to Thrasher, will spur a special election in House District 15. Though Gov. Jeb Bush has not set a date for the election, the primary could be held in late September.

Thrasher, who spoke with Dennis yesterday, said she would be suspended from office today and face eventual expulsion from the House if she did not resign. The state Constitution bars convicted felons from serving in the Legislature.

Rodney Gregory, one of Dennis' attorneys, said he could not comment about whether the resignation would come today. But he said Dennis, a Democrat, will step down instead of facing forced removal.

"She's not going to go through a full-blown hearing and be expelled," Gregory said.

Dennis, 73, and her daughter, Wilene Dozier, 43, pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony charges of misusing $19,700 in federal funds that were intended for a Northside day-care center that Dennis founded. U.S. District Judge Harvey E. Schlesinger accepted the pleas and set sentencing for Nov. 2.

Dennis, who has served in the House since 1992, has not commented publicly since the charges were disclosed in July. Thrasher, R-Orange Park, said Dennis was in "good spirits" yesterday and understood that she needed to resign. …

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