Is Insider Mike Moskowitz Getting Paid Too Much?


Attorney Mike Moskowitz’s firm got a big raise from taxpayers in the midst of the recession.

This is either the tale of a political insider getting a favor from the county commission.  Or it is an expert lawyer getting what he is due.

You decide.

County Commissioner Lois Wexler was the lone voice on February 10 against paying Moskowitz, Mandell, Salim and Simowitz more money.

The other county commissioners — Mayor Stacy Ritter did not vote — agreed to pay Moskowitz more for legal work in February than they paid him for other legal work in December. 

What’s up?

Moskowitz is a major Democratic Party activist.  He the Democratic state committeeman from Broward and raises money for numerous Democratic candidates

That’s not the reason for the raise, County Attorney Jeff Newton told commissioners last month.

Newton said the December fee schedule was developed after taking competitive bids, or proposals, from law firms for legal work at the airport.

For that work, the Moskowitz firm agreed to bill the county $225-an-hour for partners and $185-an-hour for associates.

On February 10, commissioners agreed to pay the firm $250-an-hour for partner’s and associates. 

This higher figure was because the county didn’t have time to take proposals, or bids, on this legal work.

“Time is of the essence, Newton told commissioners.

“We thought it was a fair rate in consideration of the specific task, and it’s a very narrow task with respect to the dormant commerce clause issue, said Newton.

County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman, a lawyer, also defended the new higher fees because Moskowitz firm had rare expertise in dormant commerce clause issues.  You can find out about the dormant commerce clause here.

It is no surprise to me that it was Lieberman jumping to the defense of Moskowitz.  They go back a long way.

In 1997, one of the several ethics fights Lieberman had while commissioner and mayor of Lauderhill reached the stage of setting attorney’s fees.  


The fight was against the former Lauderhill Mayor David Kaminsky. Lieberman wanted Kaminsky to pay her attorney’s fees for filing a “frivilous” ethics complaint against her.

Lieberman’s lawyer was Stuart Michelson.  He’s now her husband and the city attorney of Sunrise.

She hired Moskowitz “to testify at the final hearing on the reasonable amount of attorney’s fees and costs incurred by Lieberman, according to a state document.

Moskowitz’s hourly rate at the time was $250-an-hour as an expert witness, according to the document. 

So it hasn’t gone up in 13 years! 

After Moskowitz’s recommendation, the fees were set as follows:

Ilene Lieberman got $73,376.25 for attorney’s fees (to her future husband), $7,922.33 for costs, and $5,375.00 for Moskowitz’s expert witness work. 

I have no idea whether Lieberman ever collected a nickle of it.

But a decade later, Lieberman and Moskowitz are still doing business. It shows that roots run deep in Broward politics.


(UPDATE:  I believe it is only fair to note that since I wrote this post, I learned that Moskowitz charges at least $475-an-hour for his private clients. Also, I notice that he has won six complicated cases over the years for the county and lost none.) 



5 Responses to “Is Insider Mike Moskowitz Getting Paid Too Much?”

  1. Floridan says:

    What a lazy post — not a shed of evidence to suggest anything underhanded was done or that any of the commissioners initiated the change in fees. Just a tendentious connection of events which you fail to show have anything to do with each other.

  2. Every Time says:

    Every time somebody like Buddy or any other reporter connects another sleazy dot somebody like you pop up and say the same thing! How many loose connections, coincidences, happenstances, BUMPS IN THE FREAKIN’ DARK, does there have to be before you get it?

    But of course you get it. You’re just doing what any spinmeister would do. People are waking up to the huge amount of corruption and insider stuff in this county , so you better steal as much with both fists before the party is over in 5 or 6 years.

    The best thing we did as a county was term limits. Otherwise the way the game is fixed we would never get rid of these vampires.

  3. Special K says:

    Mike Moskowitz is part of the group that gets every legal contract from government in the county because he donates money to every campaign there is. We all know that Ilene Lieberman, Stuart Michelson, Russ Klenet, Roger Wishner, Lori Parrish and Mike Moskowitz are in bed together and have been for years. You can’t get legal work from the county or Sunrise or the property appraiser or Parkland or a half dozen other governments they stick their greasy fingers into unless you are part of their “club.”

  4. Floridan says:

    My point is not that we should overlook unethical actions on the part of any elelcted official.

    However, when flimsy accusations are made that have no real evidence to back them up, it is akin to crying “wolf!”

    In this case, Nevins fails to offer evidence that the “raise” given Moskowitz (or, more correctly, the firm in which he is a partner, Moskowitz Mandell Salim & Simowitz PA)is indeed “big.” That would depend on how many hours are going to be billed.

    Moreover, if Moskowitz was billing $250 an hour 13 years ago, I would say that the County is getting a pretty good deal now. In fact, if you walk in off the street and had to hire one of the lawyers in this firm(or any other big name firms in Fort Lauderdale)you would probably be paying well in excess of $250 an hour.

    Finally, my understanding is that retaining Moskowitz Mandell Salim & Simowitz was initiated by staff and not the Commission.

    Maybe there’s somethig unethical going on here, but what Nevins offers is only speculation, at best.

  5. A courthouse lawyer says:

    I have worked with Mike Moskowitz on a case and he’s worth every friggin’ dollar he is paid. He is simply a TERRIFIC LAWYER.