By: Sharon Aron Baron
Tamarac Mayor Beth Talabisco could face suspension the second time after The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed a Judge’s decision to drop the State’s case against her.
This means that the case that was ruled by Judge Cynthia Imperato last year will be heard by a jury.
In 2011, the state alleged that Talabisco received financial assistance in her mayoral campaign from two developers in exchange for her favorable vote to approve their highly controversial development project after the elections. The development proposed turning a golf course into a residential community and drew vocal advocates both for and against the plan.
In 2006, Talabisco was running for the office of mayor when Bruce and his son, Shawn Chait, who owned Prestige Homes of Tamarac, Inc., sought government approval to build their project in the city. Prior to her campaign, the Chaits believed that Talabisco supported the project and would vote in favor of it.
According to the ruling, Shawn Chait recognized that Talabisco’s support for the project was clear from the beginning of his involvement in her campaign but both Chaits wanted to be part of the effort to ensure her election and show support.
“Whether [Talabisco’s] support for the Chaits’ project was contingent upon their support of her is a question of intent. [Talabisco’s] intent is a question of fact for the jury,” said the ruling released today.
In February 2006, Shawn Chait met with others to discuss ways in which they could get involved in the Tamarac mayoral race to influence the outcome. The first thing they did was conduct a poll which discovered that Talabisco was tied with her opponent. The Chaits then decided to create and fund an ECO campaign (electioneering communications organization) for Talabisco. The ECO was named “Tamarac Residents for Good Government,” and the Chaits financially contributed to it by way of two conduit entities, which the Chaits later reimbursed, to create political advertisements including campaign flyers.
Talabisco claimed that her vote for the project was never contingent upon the Chaits’ financial support of her mayoral campaign. Talabisco further claimed that she “received no payment, financial benefit, or anything of value from the Chaits.”
If Mayor Talabisco were temporarily suspended from office, Vice Mayor Harry Dressler would take her place.