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Alerted, state Rep. Fasano returns $410 to state

After a call, state Rep. Mike Fasano pays back expense money he had received for Gov. Lawton Chiles' funeral in 1998.

The first time state Rep. Mike Fasano heard that taxpayers had picked up his tab when he attended Gov. Lawton Chiles' 1998 funeral was Monday, when he picked up his phone.

It was a constituent, who asked about a television news report she saw Sunday evening that detailed how much Tampa Bay legislators had charged the state to attend the services. Fasano had charged the most _ more than $400.

"I was not aware that I had been reimbursed for this," Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said Tuesday. "I immediately sent a check to the state."

Fasano said he signed off on several vouchers at once without realizing that one of those was for the funeral. So off went a personal check for $410.65 _ check number 2117 drawn on an AmSouth Bank account _ to the state.

"I'm not doing this because I think my colleagues should follow suit," Fasano said.

State Sen. John Grant, R-Tampa, whose district includes part of Pasco, said he does not intend to give back the $376 taxpayers spent on him at the funeral.

"I think it's only appropriate that the state senator represent the people of his district at the funeral of their governor," Grant said. The Senate president and the speaker of the House okayed the payments, and Grant said he did other official business.

State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Palm Harbor, whose district includes parts of Pasco, was reimbursed $238.09. He could not be reached Tuesday. Neither Rep. Ken Littlefield, R-Dade City, nor Rep. Heather Fiorentino, R-New Port Richey, had been sworn in at the time of Chiles' death.

_ Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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