Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday morning appointed Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, as tax collector for Pasco County, replacing the late Mike Olson, who died in June.
Scott's office confirmed that the governor placed a phone call to the veteran lawmaker shortly after 8 a.m. and offered him the position. Fasano will hold the office through November 2014, when he will have to fun for a new term. The post pays more than $136,000 a year, or nearly five times as much as a state legislator's salary.
Scott interviewed Fasano for the post last Friday when the two men met face-to-face in Boca Raton, and the governor also conferred with a key Pasco County political leader, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. Weatherford was one of about a dozen Pasco leaders who signed a letter endorsing Fasano for the job. When that letter reached the governor's office late Monday, it clearly signaled that momentum had swung in Fasano's direction.
Fasano, 55, a Republican, is an unconventional choice for the position because he has been a persistent critic of Scott, especially on the issues of Medicaid expansion and property insurance. Fasano made the awkward transition in 2012 from the Senate, which had been his home for a decade, back to the House, where he soon locked horns with Weatherford by criticizing the speaker's choice of a pro-industry lawmaker to chair the House Insurance Committee. Despite his seniority and extensive knowledge of policy issues, Fasano was not given a House committee chairmanship.
Fasano also is renowned for his commitment to strong constituent service, which is a cornerstone of any tax collector's position. Scott plans to travel to New Port Richey on Wednesday morning and personally announce the appointment.
Scott received dozens of letters about the appointment, with a number of people, including office employees, supporting Eileen Ferdinand for the position. Ferdinand was the top deputy to Mike Olson, a Democrat, who died June 25.
-- Steve Bousquet