Best Reality-Denying Campaign (2011)

Beth Talabisco

When recently criminally charged Tamarac Mayor Beth Talabisco was running for her seat in 2006, she tried hard to pretend she wasn't under the thumb of dirty developers Bruce and Shawn Chait, who were trying to get government approvals to build a much-too-dense housing development on two golf courses in her city. She went so far as to inform the Sun-Sentinel that she had returned some $2,000 in campaign contributions tied to the Chaits and boasted about the distance she was keeping from the developers in her own campaign ads. It seemed that Talabisco was taking the high road, and voters promptly put her in the mayor's seat. But the reality was that Talabisco may have been in the Chaits' pockets more deeply than anyone realized. According to state prosecutors, she struck a deal with the Chaits for them to secretly fund an electioneering committee that would put out a barrage of negative ads against her opponents on the final weekend before the election. In fact, she met with Sean Chait to talk about forming the committee just before the father-and-son bribers put $21,000 in cash into the committee via two subcontractors who worked for them. In exchange for the dirty political money, Talabisco voted for the Chaits' controversial development just days after her election. It took five years, but when state prosecutors learned of Talabisco's lies and corruption, they slapped her with bribery, unlawful compensation, and official misconduct charges. She currently awaits trial.

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