Fired twice from influential posts in the Republican-led state Senate today, Mike Fasano lashed back at trigger-pulling Senate President Mike Haridopolos, comparing him to a “schoolyard bully.”
The pair are waging a prolonged feud over a leadership plan to privatize Florida’s prisons. Minutes after Senate leaders called off a vote on the bill because they couldn’t muster the votes necessary to pass it, Haridopolos, in a private ceremony in his office, stripped Fasano of his chairmanship of the Senate Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee. The panel oversees spending on state courts and Florida’s 19 prisons.
Adding insult to political injury, Haridopolos (R-Merrit Island) removed Fasano from the main budget committee.
Fasano, unbowed, released the following statement:
“In my 18 years of elective office I have always and will continue to vote my conscience I have stood up for the little guy and gal, those who otherwise would not have a voice in the legislative process. I will always speak out when I see injustice, no matter what the consequences may be.
“No matter how big the bully in the schoolyard may be, if the loss of a chairmanship is the result of taking a stand for what is right, I wear that loss as a badge of honor.
“As the final days of the president’s tenure comes to a close I encourage him to stand up for taxpayers and consumers to ensure that each and every tax dollar is spent wisely. The special interests should not prevail. I hope that he will do what is right and remember why we were all sent to Tallahassee.”
Naturally, this episode merely adds to the rich texture of Fasano’s long-anticipated run for Congress, enhancing his reputation as a constituent-focused public servant willing to resist leadership when it seems misguided. That could be a useful arrow in his campaign quiver if Fasano does, indeed, challenge reliable Gus Bilirakis, the two-term congressman from Palm Harbor.