What Did Mayor Beth Know, and When Did She Know It?

So now allow me to quickly finish yesterday's post on the investigation into Tamarac Mayor Beth Flansbaum-Talabisco. Established facts are:

-- A political committee called Tamarac Residents for Good Government was created by dubious Democratic operative Barry Harris just before the 2006 election in Tamarac.

-- The committee was funded with $21,000 on March 9, 2006, the Friday before Election Day, with a pair of $10,500 contributions from two businesses that weren't known to have much of a political stake in Tamarac (All Star Electric out of Miami and the now-defunct Wholesale Flooring Center out of Coconut Creek).

-- With cash in hand, the committee funded an attack-mailer campaign on two of mayoral candidate Beth Flansbaum-Talabisco's opponents, Mae Schreiber and Karen Roberts, that were sent out the weekend before Election Day. Flansbaum-Talabisco won the election easily.  

-- All Star Electric owner James Starkweather, after first actiing as if he knew nothing about the contribution, yesterday told me that he couldn't discuss the matter at this time.

OK, so those are the facts. Multiple sources, however, tell me that the $21,000 from the two businesses was covertly connected to dirty developer Bruce Chait and his firm Prestige Homes.

Chait has been implicated in paying off numerous public officials, including imprisoned Broward County Commissioner Joe Eggelletion and Flansbaum-Talabisco's friend and political ally, Patricia Atkins-Grad. Shortly after her election to mayor, Flansbaum-Talabisco voted to approve Prestige Homes' highly controversial development on two Tamarac golf courses. 

The implications of all this for Flansbaum-Talabisco? Well, the truth is that these sleazy last-minute assaults are common. Consider the speed with which the smear campaign was conducted. The money allegedly came in Friday, the ads went out over the weekend, and Flansbaum-Talabisco was elected on Tuesday, March 13. Then, just nine days later, on March 22, Flansbaum-Talabisco took part in a unanimous commission vote to approve Prestige Homes' controversial housing development on two Tamarac golf courses.

It was done so fast that nobody could possibly determine where the money came from to fund it (Harris didn't have to report the financing for weeks). The key question regarding Flansbaum-Talabisco is: Did she know about the smear campaign, and who funded it before her vote?

Because if she was knowledgeable that Chait had financed the smear campaign on her behalf and secretly raised $21,000 for it, the mayor's vote has the distinct look of a quid pro quo. And that would be a crime. At the very least, the mayor should have disclosed the fact prior to her vote and recused herself. But then she would have had to admit to her town that she was involved in some seriously underhanded politics. And she would have been exposed as the worst kind of hypocrite as well, since she publicly returned Chaits' conventional contributions to her campaign, saying she didn't know at the time she accepted them that he had a project before her city.

Understand that Chait is cooperating with state prosecutors. But whatever he says will have to be corroborated in some way, because as a bribe-offering dirty developer, his credibility is obviously shot. Has the state questioned Harris? Trying to find that one out.

This one is still out in the open, but the Chaits contributed to a lot of folks. To see a list of state candidates the dirty developer, his firm, and associates and family members contributed to, look inside. You'll recognize a lot of the names.  

I'm fixing this now, but here it is in jumbled form.

Ritter, Stacy  (DEM)(BCC)                          12/21/2005           500.00           

Campbell, Walter  "Skip"  (DEM)(ATG)         10/22/2006           500.00

Rayson, John C. (NOP)(CTJ)                        08/28/2006           500.00

Waldman, James "Jim" (DEM)(STR)              07/28/2008           100.00

Davis, Jim  (DEM)(GOV)                               02/22/2006           500.00

Graber, Ben  (DEM)(STS)                             01/02/2006           500.00

Jenne, Evan  (DEM)(STR)                             06/21/2005           250.00                              

Jenne, Evan  (DEM)(STR)                             03/20/2006           500.00

Maddox, Scott Charles (DEM)(GOV)              06/30/2005           500.00

Seiler, John P. "Jack" (DEM)(STR)                 06/14/2005           250.00

Smith, Rod  (DEM)(GOV)                              02/03/2006           500.00

Florida Democratic Party (PTY)                     08/22/2006            2,500.00

Thurston, Perry E. (DEM)(STR)                      08/28/2006           500.00

Thurston, Perry E. (DEM)(STR)                      11/02/2006           500.00

Waldman, Jim  (DEM)(STR)                           08/12/2005           500.00 

Feren, Steven Brian (NOP)(CTJ)                     10/14/2008           350.00

Feren, Steven Brian (NOP)(CTJ)                      07/17/2008           500.00

Campbell, Walter  "Skip"  (DEM)(ATG)            10/22/2006           500.00

Davis, Jim  (DEM)(GOV)                                 02/22/2006           500.00

Graber, Ben  (DEM)(STS)                               01/02/2006           500.00

Jenne, Evan  (DEM)(STR)                               03/20/2006           500.00

Ritter, Stacy  (DEM)(BCC)                              12/21/2005           500.00

Smith, Rod  (DEM)(GOV)                                02/03/2006           500.00

Thurston, Perry E. (DEM)(STR)                        11/02/2006           500.00

Waldman, Jim  (DEM)(STR)                             08/12/2005           500.00

Davis, Jim  (DEM)(GOV)                                  10/29/2006           500.00

Ritter, Stacy  (DEM)(BCC)                                03/23/2006           500.00

Graber, Ben  (DEM)(STS)                                 06/28/2006           500.00

Davis, Jim  (DEM)(GOV)                                   08/31/2006           500.00

Ritter, Stacy  (DEM)(BCC)                                03/23/2006           500.00 (Shawn Chait)

Florida Democratic Party (PTY)                         08/30/2006           500.00

Thurston, Perry E. (DEM)(STR)                         08/28/2006           500.00

Thurston, Perry E. (DEM)(STR)                         11/02/2006           500.00

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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