How A Lobbyist Cozied Up To Ilene Lieberman


Just how low will a lobbyist sink to ingratiate himself with a county commissioner?

In the case of lobbyist Alex Heckler, he’ll sink very low. That’s the way I see it.

Heckler is the subject of much testimony given by political consultant Russ Oster in the corruption case of Tamarac Mayor Beth Talabisco. Oster gave a lengthy deposition last month.

Alex Heckler

Heckler has some fame in Democratic political circles.  He styles himself a fund raiser when he is not plying his wares at the county commission.

Oster testified that Heckler’s fund raising was sometimes smoke and mirrors.  About the 2008 election, Oster said:

“Alex was supposed to be going to DC and raising a ton of money there and getting involved in, you know, Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and 10 percent of it actually ever happened.”

State Democratic Party chief Rod Smith is said to be counting on Heckler to raise a lot of dough in the upcoming cycle.

Maybe Smith should rethink that one.

But the deposition is really about Broward and not presidential campaigns. Oster testified because he was involved in the Talabisco campaign.

In 2006, Lieberman needed Heckler’s help in Tamarac. The county commission wasn’t enough for Queen Ilene.  She wanted to run Tamarac City Hall, too.

Lieberman thought she could control the city through her handpicked mayor, Talabisco.  She made it a priority to get Talabisco elected.

Heckler was happy to oblige.  Why not get his mitts deep into Tamarac politics? Heckler had clients and Lieberman had a vote on the county commission.

Oster: “Heckler tried to ingratiate himself to elected officials. If Heckler sensed that it was a priority of Liberman to have Talabisco elected mayor of Tamarac, then anything he could do to help get – anything Heckler could do to help get Talabisco elected would help him with Lieberman.”

Question: “And Lieberman, at least in ’06, had a lot of influence on the Broward County commission?”

Oster: “Right. And Heckler’s main focus of his lobbying practice was the Broward County commission.  So it might have been more so for Ilene’s benefit than anything else that he did what he was doing.”

So why was Heckler so valuable to Lieberman?

Because a corrupt developer named Shawn Chait wanted to help Talabisco and didn’t want to be hemmed in by the $500-per-person donation limit.  Chait believed that if Talabisco was elected,  she would support his plans to replace two golf courses with housing.

Heckler knew how to form shadowy committees that would allow Chait to give unlimited amounts.

There was another problem.

Chait’s project was opposed by many voters.  So Chait’s role in the campaign had to be hidden.

Heckler also knew how to hide money by shifting it from one committee to another.  It was all legal. It was all shady.

Oster described Heckler’s skills:

Oster: Hecker was an expert in “a laundry system where (money) ran through (one committee) and then another, so then, you know, trying to–

Question: You say laundry system, like the way to launder money?

Oster: Not launder money, but just –

Question: You used the term. I didn’t.

Oster: Yeah, but that has a very illegal connotation to it.  There’s nothing illegal about what he was doing in terms of taking (committee) money and giving it to another PAC…

If you ran the money through enough committees, it made is difficult to find out where the money originated.  Oster called it “a legal way to hide money, hide the source of contributions.”

What a fine talent for a member of the Florida Bar!  I’m sure he made his law professors proud.

Oh, its all legal.  It also is slimy.

I don’t believe the voters of Tamarac want the sources of money in their city campaigns hidden.  I don’t believe they want a bunch of downtown Fort Lauderdale consultants and lobbyists manipulating their elections.

Apparently in the lapsed morals of lobbying, almost anything goes to win friends among elected officials.

12 Responses to “How A Lobbyist Cozied Up To Ilene Lieberman”

  1. Wow says:

    Sounds like a guy who was a little jealous of Heckler. Alex was on has been a top guy the last few years and Oster packed up and went back up north after dropping the ball on the Broward’s Mayors race. Has any candidate used Oster in a race besides through an ECO since the Broward Mayor race? Sounds like sour grapes more than anything else.

    FROM BUDDY: Oster testified that he has been a consultant on a number of campaigns since the 2000 mayor’s race. His testimony indicated he handled a Parkland mayor’s race, some races in Fort Lauderdale, a state senator contest, two referendums and others.

  2. Smart Move says:

    This is why campaign finance must be reformed. Nobody wants to bite that bullet. But there it is. Campaigns should be publicly financed.

  3. Tomas says:

    Everything I read about this points at Ilene Lieberman. She shouldn’t be given immunity. She should be behind bars.

  4. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Isn’t it funny everything always comes out in the wash. And it just goes to show you what some of these people will do to advance their influence in society, at any cost. I said this before what ever happened to going into “public service” to better your fellow man. Greed, and more greed. When are the residents going to see justice w/ he like of these characters.As far as this guy your referring to just another piece to the puzzle. Mayor Talabisco are you taking notes???

  5. Walking says:

    Talabisco appears the least culpable one in this whole mess. She was a dupe. Lieberman was behind it.

  6. Jerry says:

    Faulting a lawyer who uses his skills to form a legitimate political action committee is a misguided arrow Buddy.  According to you, the committee did nothing illegal, but instead raised money that was used in a political campaign.  While it would be preferable if the legislature would tighten the laws to abolish these committees, it appears that the Republican controlled legislature is up to its high pockets in these political committees. Maybe you should point your arrows where they belong.  
    No one is interested in Heckler, he never represented the Chaits, and you frankly give him too much press.

  7. Wow says:

    Did he name specific races or was he hidden behind an ECO where no one knows what if anything he did. The real interesting question would be how many races did he and Mike Kaplan have against each other.

  8. anon says:

    Even the so called sqeaky clean hide contributions in pac funds. So no big suprise there. Slimy? Hmmm I like that! I thought so too but just chalked it up as this is the way its done. Do I like it hell no what can you do you go against the powers that be ?

  9. more interesting than WOW says:

    The even more interesting question is who George Bograkos thinks he’s fooling with that wig he wears on his head!
    : )

  10. Dan Reynolds says:

    Keep in mind the practice of shifting money in this race was legal at the time. This was BEFORE the “Citizens United” decision by the Supremes. Imagine how the floodgates will be opened in the next election cycle. Here comes oligarchy.

    FROM BUDDY: It was legal as I wrote.
    It was also sleazy.

  11. Dan Reynolds says:

    Buddy, you missed my point. These shenanigans are going to get worse since the “Citizens United” ruling.

  12. anon says:

    Sorry Buddy, my mistake its a SLEAZY thing to do.