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Fasano to shutter his political committee, give cash to charity

TALLAHASSEE — As a show of support to campaign finance reform efforts in the Legislature, Rep. Mike Fasano announced Friday that he’s disbanding his political committee and will donate the unspent campaign cash to charity.

“With the elections reforms that are being talked about, there is no longer a need for these committees,” said Fasano, R-New Port Richey. “I’d ask that anyone disbanding their (committees) disburse the funds to non profits.”

Fasano said he was backing House Speaker Will Weatherford, who in November announced he was making the elimination of the committees part of his ethics and campaign finance reform.

Too much of the money raised by these committees are spent on things other than political campaigns, Weatherford has said, making them susceptible to abuse.

On Friday, Fasano faxed a letter to the Florida Division of Elections giving notice that he was pulling the plug on his Floridians for Principled Government, a Committee of Continuous Existence, or CCE, that he created in 2003.

Since it formed, it has raised $644,000 in contributions and spent $403,000. Its last expenditure was on Oct. 30 for $2,500 to the Florida Conservative Action Committee, which is based in West Palm Beach.

Fasano said he was donating the money in the following ways:

• $83,000 to The Volunteer Way, a meals-on-wheels non-profit, for the purchase of a refrigerator truck to deliver perishable food.

• $10,000 to the Good Samaritan Health Clinic to pay the salary of a nurse practitioner who can provide expanded health services in Pasco.

• $10,000 to help finance a drug monitoring program data base for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Foundation.

• $2,000 to SmileFaith Dental Care, which provides dental care to those who can’t afford it.

Fasano said he didn’t think about shuttering his committee until Weatherford’s announcement in November. Under state law, candidates can steer that money to political parties, to charity or return it to donors. They also can steer money to their state office accounts or give the money to the state treasury.