God bless! Mike Fasano to appear at Tiger Bay today

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In what is scheduled to be the last Suncoast Tiger Bay Club event of the year, Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano makes an appearance at the St. Pete Yacht Club on Tuesday at noon.

Generally Tiger Bay doesn’t usually feature tax collectors as their main speaker at one of their events. But Fasano isn’t your average bureaucrat. Until a year ago he was one of the longest-serving lawmakers in the Legislature, having initially been elected to the Florida House in 1994.  But in August of 2013 Gov. Rick Scott plucked him out of the House to succeed longtime tax collector Mike Olson, who died two months earlier after 32 years in office. Some suggested that Scott did so because Fasano was becoming a big pain for Tallahassee Republicans. In recent years he had become an outspoken critic on issues like prison privatization, property insurance and charter schools.

But the native New Yorker is still a player politically. He further alienated some of his fellow Republicans in Pasco this past year with his outspoken support for his friend Charlie Crist for governor, who was of course running as a Democrat against the man who appointed him to his current gig, Rick Scott. In late October, Fasano joined with Democratic state Rep. Janet Cruz in blasting the governor for refusing to release information about Google email accounts used by him and his executive staff.

Fasano also didn’t exactly ingratiate himself with the GOP when, after saying he would stay neutral in the special election race to replace him in the Florida House, ultimately ended up endorsing Democrat Amanda Murphy (who won re-election to the HD 36 seat last month).

Might the lifetime Republican do a Charlie Crist and switch over to the Democratic Party? Stranger things have happened.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.