NEW PORT RICHEY
State Rep.-elect Mike Fasano got a chance to play Santa early, thanks to about $50,000 in leftover campaign money. Fasano, a Republican who reached his term limit in the state Senate, was predicted to easily defeat a write-in candidate for state House on Nov. 6, but the law would not allow him to disburse his campaign money to nonprofits until after the election. "So far we've given out about $40,000," he said Tuesday. The top beneficiary was Volunteer Way, which runs a food bank. Fasano gave the group $10,000 to put toward a refrigerator truck or other operating expenses. Another cause close to his heart, AMIKids, got $5,000. The agency, formerly known as the Marine Institute, provides educational programs for at-risk children. It took a huge hit earlier this year when it lost a state contract and has had to cobble together a budget with assistance from the Pasco school district and county government. Other agencies included the Salvation Army, which needs new equipment for its soup kitchen, the YMCA and Boy Scouts. Fasano also gave to People for Haiti, an organization started by Trinity family practice physician Leo Vieira and his wife, Guiga, as well as Lost Angels Big and Small, an animal welfare group, and other agencies. Fasano said having a write-in helped him raise more money for charities. "We didn't ask for money, but people kept making contributions," he said. "I think some of them knew it would be going to a good cause."