Did Ilene Lieberman's Public Bailout of Operative Buy Loyalty? | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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Did Ilene Lieberman's Public Bailout of Operative Buy Loyalty?

So the Sun-Sentinel is reporting that political consultant Beverly Stracher defended Broward County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman under oath, telling prosecutors that Lieberman would never sell her vote. 

The way Stracher sounds, you'd think Lieberman was a paragon of virtue, which is nonsense. Of course Lieberman's vote is for sale, certainly in the legal sense. She's always been ridiculously cozy with this town's influence peddlers, developers, and other special interests (so long as they have cash). This is a politician who not only goes to fundraisers where she is showered with tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from lobbyists and their clients but also has them over to her own house to solicit money for hand-chosen politicians she's backing.

We shouldn't forget that Lieberman has also lobbied extensively while in office herself and has attempted to influence Broward cities that rely on the county to vote for her former developer client, Pinnacle Homes. At times, she has used the power of her office in a very suspicious -- if not criminal -- manner.  

It's also evident that Lieberman was aware that her old

friend, former Tamarac Mayor Beth Talabisco, was involved in a corrupt deal with dirty developers Bruce and Shawn Chait and rather than counsel her not to vote for the Chaits' project, she told her to delay the vote so it wouldn't look so suspicious. 

Stracher testified that it was the Chaits' idea to give $25,000 to Lieberman's charity, the Transplant Foundation, and that she counseled them to go ahead and do it. "Not exactly 'why not,' but I thought it can't hurt. How could it hurt if you're giving to someone's charity? It can't hurt you. But I know Ilene, and I know that vote is not for sale."

So why does Stracher -- who worked for the Chaits and admitted to prosecutors that she knew they were bribing politicians all around town while she was on their payroll -- portray Lieberman as a political saint? 

Well, let's look at the facts. Last year, Stracher, a former Sun-Sentinel reporter, was almost surely at the low point of her life. She was mired in the Chait scandal, and her husband, Les, was in a world of hurt when his law partner, Scott Rothstein, brought down their firm with his massive Ponzi scheme. 

Who came to Stracher's rescue? None other than Lieberman, who put Stracher -- a clearly ethically compromised political operative -- on the county payroll last year as her aide. Talk about a public bailout. Here you had a disgraced political operative suddenly elevated to the status of county official. And taxpayers are now paying her salary. 

The hiring -- even if it had nothing to do with Stracher's kind words under oath -- is another sign of Lieberman's dubious character. 

And it's another sign that State Attorney Michael Satz, if he really is serious about cleaning up this corrupt town, has a lot of work left to do.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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