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Fasano and Aubuchon cleared of ethics complaints

Ethics charges were dismissed against Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, after a closed door meeting held Friday, according to a statement released today from the Florida Commission on Ethics.

Michael Rossi, the retired Pasco County lieutenant who filed a complaint against Fasano, said the senator was serving spaghetti at a Pasco community event where Rossi was selling gold.

Rossi was speaking out against Republican incumbent Sheriff Christopher Nocco, whom Fasano supports.

Fasano held out his hand for a shake and said, "I hear you've been badmouthing the sheriff, that's not going to be good for business."

"I thought that was highly inappropriate for him to say as a senator," said Rossi, a supporter of Nocco's Democratic opponent, Kim Bogart. "He should respect that you have the right to support who you want."

Fasano's account of the incident was similar, but he said, "In no way was I trying to relay a message of intimidation."

Fasano is termed-out of the Senate, but he announced plans this week for another House run. This is the second complaint against him during his 18 years in the Legislature, he said.

"It's part of being an elected official, and you just have to deal with it," he said.

Fasano was cleared of a 2007 complaint that he tried to stop one company from printing the state's driver handbooks because Fasano's business partner lobbied for a competitor. The attorney's fees ran him close to $500, Fasano said.

Aubuchon did not immediately return calls for comment on his case.