Inside Talabisco’s Dirty Deal: Six Democratic Insiders


Parkland Mayor Michael Udine was Broward politics’ Mister Clean.

Lawyer/lobbyist Alex Heckler was a respected conduit to national Democratic politics.

Michael Kaplan and Russ Oster were well-thought-of political consultants.

County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman was once one of the top politicians in Broward.  Beverly Stracher was a leading political operative.

All that is in the past.

After today’s release of the evidence in the case against Tamarac Mayor Beth Talabisco, the six are simply slimy insiders willing to bend election laws for developers with cash.

None of the six have been charged with any crime.

But they are neck deep in a dirty political deal.  They were part of an effort to use hidden campaign money from dirty developers Bruce and Shawn Chait to win an election, according to the Talabisco arrest affidavit.

Planning was even done by Heckler and Udine, members of the Florida Bar.

The Dirty Deal

Outlines of the alleged conspiracy to trade votes for cash is contained in the arrest affidavit for Talabisco:

“In February 2006, Shawn Chait met Alex Heckler, Russell Oster and Michael Udine at the law office of Michael Udine to discuss ways Shawn Chait could get involved in the 2006 Tamarac mayor’s race

Chait had a reason to be concerned who became Tamarac’s mayor.  He wanted to pave over two golf course and replace them with condominiums.

The only problem was Tamarac residents. They were against the project.

The affidavit continues:

This first meeting eventually resulted in a decision.  A poll was done.  The poll suggested that the Chaits form a largely anonymous political committee to attack Talabisco’s opponents.

Talabisco and Shawn Chait met at political consultant Stracher’s house.  Stracher was Talabisco’s campaign manager.

Stracher said she needed $21,000 for the committee.

The law in 2006 said that a committee and a campaign were not supposed to be coordinated.  The affidavit describes Stracher and Talabisco violating this election law, although neither of them were charged with this.

Stracher now works as Lieberman’s county commission aide.  You are paying her generous salary.

Back in the day, she was also the Chaits’ lobbyist.

“Give Me Money Right Now”

Stracher then told Chait that she needed the money right away.  The money needed to be brought to Heckler, who I again remind readers is a member of the Florida Bar.

Heckler also brags about his connections to national Democrats. What  he won’t be bragging about is how he planned with crooks to fund a shadowy political committee.

Here is his bio on his law firm website:

“A nationally recognized Democratic party activist and fundraiser, Mr. Heckler is the Treasurer (Finance Director) of the Democratic Governors Association.  Mr. Heckler also served as a National Finance Committee Member for the Obama Victory Fund, was the Florida Finance Chair for Hillary Rodham Clinton and served as National Finance Co-Chair for Kerry-Edwards Victory 2004.”

Democratic leader Alex Heckler: Involved with dirty developers

I’m sure Democrats need the help of someone like you, Heckler.

The affidavit continues:

Heckler met with another sterling member of Broward’s Democratic community, consultant Barry Harris, “and completed the documents for the (committee).”

Harris was the front, the person who’s name would appear on the committee’s public documents.  The rest of the players would remain hidden, including the Chaits.

The Chaits obtained the money from two of his subcontractors. Then the Chaits reimbursed them.

Kaplan and Oster consulted on the attack pieces the committee would create. They earlier did the poll for the Chaits.

County Commissioner Lieberman, also a lawyer, showed up at the end of the process.  Lieberman, Talabisco and Stracher were political allies and personal friends.

County Commissioner Lieberman “reviewed and approved the filthy committee attack ads which slammed Talabisco’s opponents, states the affidavit

Lieberman:  Reviewed and approved dirty ads

Later, Lieberman warned Talabisco.  She told Talabisco that her quid pro quo to get campaign funding in return for voting for a development was illegal.

“Lieberman felt Talabisco had a voting conflict. Talabisco told Commissioner Lieberman she was still going to ‘vote’ because she had made a commitment,  according to the affidavit.

Again , nobody but Talabisco has been charged.

Udine, Hecker, Oster, Kaplan, Stracher and Lieberman have not been charged with wrongdoing.

But Udine, Hecker, Oster, Kaplan, Stracher and Lieberman appear from this affidavit to be part of everything people hate about politics. They were willing to wallow in political slime to do the bidding of rich developers…and the public be damned.

Udine hoped for a big political career.  After reading the affidavit I have only one impression about Udine’s political future: Give me a break.

Udine, Hecker, Oster, Kaplan and Lieberman should remember this:

When you walk into a room from now on, people will be saying one thing to your face.  But they’ll be whispering another thing behind your back.

You lost respect on Wednesday.

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

17 Responses to “Inside Talabisco’s Dirty Deal: Six Democratic Insiders”

  1. But Buddy says:

    Hey Buddy…..

    2 things are pretty interesting in your piece.

    You refer to Alex as Alex HACKler instead of Heckler. Interesting slip there, since he’s shown himself to be nothing more than a hack.

    Also, interesting that Barry Harris isn’t identified as one of the FORMERLY respected political insiders. I guess that’s because he’s never been respected — and is always part of the slimy underbelly of Democratic politics in this County.

    Time for the Democrats of Broward to purge themselves of the scumbags running their party — and we all know Fish stinks from the head!


    Oh, and sorry to use the name “But Buddy” on a story about some people who might go to prison.

  2. Git R Done says:

    And to think, Udine is already gearing up to run for seat in the House, Ari Porth’s seat that is…
    He should have known better,this already smells horribly wrong from the gitgo…

  3. same old song says:

    Yeah I am sure no meeting like this ever took place with Judy Stern when Joe Eggs got his golf membership paid for by the Chaits. Is any of this story a real surprise? All or most of the above will survive to work campaigns again. In the campaign world its almost a badge of honor. Nothing illegal from what I see.

  4. Resident says:

    Adding to what has been happening to Lieberman the last couple of months, you can draw the following conclusions:

    First, Lieberman was having some type of clinical depression or nervous breakdown because of this situation;

    Second, the arrest was delayed due to Talabisco’s surgery and Lieberman’s mental condition;

    Finally, and what is the worse, what is not being thought through was that the arrest said that “Lieberman said that as a friend she discussed the “527” with Beth Flansbaum-Talabisco since the vote was coming up soon soon after the election. She discussed moving it to a later date.”

    It wasn’t that there was a “voting conflict.” It was because it was too soon for a vote that it was a “voting conflict.” In other words Lieberman conspired to delay the vote to hide the voting conflict, thinking that if it was later the conflict would go away. Or better yet, it wouldn’t draw attention eventually.

    Either way, it sounds like Lieberman also should be charged with some type of CONSPIRACY.

    However, I expect that at some point it will come up that Lieberman has Immunity of some type. If true, I feel she could be part of a recall petition, or removal by the Governor.

  5. Local Lawyer says:

    Git R Done – you’re wrong, stay tuned.

  6. Really says:

    Mayor Beth is an arrogant princess. At first blush it’s hard to believe that anyone would engage in such wrongdoing to be–the Mayor of TAMARAC??? I mean really! What a joke. However, the influence is the prevailing factor. Heckler engages in these activities because he’s a lobbyist-who frequents the hallways of County Commissioners. So he’ll flirt with Talisbisco in order to suck Lieberman–and other on the Commission.
    I don’t know Bev Stracher, but why/how did she come about to work for Lieberman? Hush money? What’s your take on that?

    As for Lieberman, from I read in your article, I don’t think she did anything wrong Legally that is…morally? Well, she is without boundaries.

    Thanks for the good work.

  7. Chaz Stevens says:

    Michael Udine is a man of impeccable character…

  8. Warren Meddoff says:

    Follow the money, the Chait/Stracher tentacles lead far and wide through the county. School board members, already crying, elected officials who’s campaign’s they have managed in the past, all are under Federal scrutiny. No one has been given a pass on indictments, they just haven’t been handed down yet.

  9. Mary J. Thompson says:

    Barry Harris………….what was his compensation?

  10. Senator John Bluatrsky says:

    I don’t believe that Udine is involved other than hosting a meeting. He is above reproach.

  11. Kevin says:

    I bet this is going to be a really, really hard case to prove in court….. far harder than the cases against the other two Tamarac ex-commissioners.

  12. Daniel Simpson Day says:

    And Michael Udine is guilty of what? Permitting the Chaits and Oster to use his law office for a meeting? You owe Udine a serious apology in 72 point type.


    “In February 2006, Shawn Chait met Alex Heckler, Russell Oster and Michael Udine at the law offices of Michael Udine to discuss ways Shawn Chait could get involved in the 2006 Tamarac Mayors Race to influence the outcome of the election,” states the affidavit.

    This is more than just letting someone use your law offices, whatever spin his friends want to put on it. He was part of the meeting!

    This was the first step in a conspiracy, cooked up behind the closed doors of a law office, which allowed a developer to control an election for his own benefit.

    Udine should pick his friends better. I know a lawyer who was approached by the Chaits and ran the other way because they appeared so sleazy.

  13. hey now says:

    more on Udine in Coral Springs Forum ethics speaks for itself
    if you quack like a duck…..

  14. hey now says:

    ancient Chineese saying says if you associate yourself with certain people you are prob just like them whats up with that Udine maybe not so squeky clean afterall

  15. I'm a blue bird says:

    Mike Kaplan and Russ Oster are in deep with Eric Johnson and Amy Rose. They all employ the same tactics. Let’s see the consultants who create these monsters (and make fortunes off of them) get what’s coming to them.

  16. Daniel Simpson Day says:

    He was part of the meeting! So you state, Buddy. And what was the outcome of that meeting? Illegal payoff? The dreaded mailer? No. The decision to conduct a poll. Shawn Chait paid for the poll but so what? Anybody can order a poll, and since it wasn’t campaign advertising, there was no need to become part of Talabisco’s campaign. Get involved or influence the outcome of an election? Since when is that illegal? If it is then anybody who wants to “influence the outcome of an election” is also guilty including politicians who endorse candidates, companies that contribute thousands in multiple $500 checks, and even volunteers who go the extra mile. And exactly how does any of that reflect on Michael Udine’s character? He had no direct involvement in either the mailer or the $21,000. Pardon me, Buddy but where’s the beef?

  17. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Here we go again. This explains where Comm.Lieberman went missing for six months. She was very busy at the State Att. Off. squelling on her friend Talabasico. More like saving her own ass(lieberman). So we now know as i have been saying right along that Lieberman is cooperating with the State Att. Off.Probably to keep herself out of the slammer. Don’t get me wrong talabisco is no better. Whats funny is her own friend Comm.Loeberman threw her to the dogs. There is never any loyality amongs thieves. For Talabisco to sell herself for a lousy 20 grand derserves to go to jail. And lets not forget the other Informants like father like son The Chaits. Here they spill the beans who are just as corrupt as the polticians that they are spilling the beans on are no better. Then they both get this sweetheart deal what 4yrs. probation and get this can still apply for construction work here in Broward. Just absurd the Chaits should have been expelled for ever doing business in Broward. But becaus ethey to ARE COOPERATING THEY GET A BREAK. tHE cHAITS ARE JUST AS bad as the others ,if not worse. Oh where was Att/Comm.Alu no name dropping this time she must be furious that she did not take this most recent person down. Look at her pattern. I know Sheila going all the way to the FBI(sure). Just another crooked poltician(talabisco) with a pretty smile. They all just don’t get it. Yes you looked stunning Mrs.Talabisco “LEAVING THE JAIL. “Who’s her big-shot Att.? Another example of how corrupt and more importantly how they will sell themselves for just about any amount of money or goodies. Locking them all up including this beauty queen can’t come fast enough. Oh by the way Buddy big mouth Mayoral Canidate Earl Rynerson should be the next one getting the cuffs. Did you hear the news having his employee(ian Barnes) do polling work(canvasing) the day of the Mayor Election in Ft.Lauderdale while this man wa s being paid by earl’s business(corporate donation-forbidden).Then Earl Rynerson has the nerve to say its just dirty politics. It was your employee that dropped a dime on you sir. Unreal Buddy. You could not make this stuff up. Get your bond money ready Earl, in my opinion your gonna need it. And that other arrorgant ass earl’s buddy Tim Smith is another jackass.With his demands for a 400thousand dollar consulant. Sad part is Mayor Seiler is caving in to his demands on the Visioning Commitee. I have a vision for you Tim smith how about not trying to waste the taxpayer ‘s money for your own interests and ego. Write another book so Beach Activist Art Seitz can sue you for even more money. But Mr.Smith states that i’m less then zero, and are basiclly full of beans ,yeah Tim sell your rants to the Mayor or to are District Comm. Charlotte Rodstrom who was opposed to his 1/2 mill.request. But then the Mayor states that he will get the pricing down from the 400grand. Get it down Jack, get it down to zero is more like it.Call it like i see it and it ain’t to pretty.Enough!