NEW PORT RICHEY — Democrat Amanda Murphy says the charge that she accepted campaign contributions from "BIG INSURANCE" and "BIG UTILITY" as alleged in a mailer this week is so far afield she can't fathom where it's coming from.
"It's just so ridiculous. I can't believe people lie that way," she said.
Republican Mike Fasano took issue with it too.
Fasano, whose resignation from the state House set the stage for a runoff in House District 36 in west Pasco, blasted Republican nominee Bill Gunter and the conservative third-party group that sent the mailer, which showed up in mail boxes Tuesday.
"This is unacceptable, and probably the most important thing is, it's untrue," Fasano said.
But what irked him most was the fact that the mailer uses his name, saying, "These are the same companies Mike Fasano fought against to keep rates low and restore fairness and accountability to."
That was enough to have him turning to social media and email to denounce Gunter and the group Citizens for Fairness.
"I've been involved in campaigns more than 20 years and I know these third-party groups are working hand-in-hand with the Republican party," he said.
Gunter did not respond for this story. His spokesman said, "For this entire campaign, Bill has been focused on his positive vision for getting Pasco back to work and protecting our seniors. Outside groups, whether attacking Bill or ignoring Mike Fasano's wishes, are not part of a solution for the challenges the people of Pasco are facing."
Citizens for Fairness did not return calls. A review of Murphy's campaign finance reports do not list contributions from insurance or utility companies.
Not much is known about Citizens for Fairness. State Division of Elections records show it's an electioneering communications organization based in Melbourne headed by Carmela K. Falcone, 79. Michael Millner, a political consultant from Jensen Beach, is listed as treasurer.
Falcone is also associated with eight other political groups — including Conservative Leadership for Florida, the Conservative Values Coalition, Conservatives United and Floridians for Smaller Government — according to records.
Millner is a treasurer for Conservative Leadership for Florida and for Chris Sprowls' GOP campaign for House District 65 in Pinellas. He was treasurer for St. Petersburg City Council candidate David McKalip, who lost in last month's primary.
Calls to Falcone and Millner were not returned.
Fasano said he's sticking by his pledge not to endorse either candidate in the House race, despite the mailer. He asked Gunter and Citizens for Fairness to stop using his name in ads.
"The allegations it puts in the flyier using my name are untrue and should be discounted by anyone who reads them," he said.
The election is Oct. 15.
Rich Shopes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6236.