An internal audit by state-run Citizens Insurance has cleared hiring Scott Link at $525 an hour to be "coordinating counsel":
A “targeted review report” on the contract is part of materials available online for a Citizens audit committee meeting today.That's not exactly a perfectly clean bill of health btw.
No other bidder came near the $525 per hour fees of West Palm Beach lawyer Scott Link when his firm won a sped-up, “expedited” contract to serve as coordinating counsel for claims lawsuits, bidding records examined by The Palm Beach Post showed. The closest was $360 among 18 bids for two Citizens contracts his firm won since 2012.
Link’s projected billing under the latest contract is more than $1 million a year, triple the annual pay of Citizens CEO Barry Gilway.
A review under the direction of Citizens chief of internal audit Joe Martins found “evaluators had used a subjective approach to scoring proposed fees as opposed to a mathematical approach” commonly used in other bids. Company officials said to do otherwise would have led to an “improper ranking” because of the nature of the legal services provided, but auditors said the subjective standards made it difficult to review the scoring.
“We could not, however, substantiate the criteria used when scoring fees subjectively, hence impairing our ability to re-perform the scoring independently,” the review said.
Citizens also lacked a “clear or defined negotiation strategy” to hold down fees, the report found.
Of course, not everyone is happy:
Some outside the company see it very differently. The deal “doesn’t pass the smell test,” Jay Neal, president and CEO of the Fort Lauderdale-based Florida Association for Insurance Reform, said in January.
As for negotiating fees down, The Post reported Link and Citizens officials shared a chuckle when he was asked about changing his fees in a recorded company interview for the second, larger contract.Unfair to other clients to reduce rates charged to taxpayers?
“I would certainly increase them if you insisted on it, but I would do it reluctantly,” Link said. After the laughter subsided, Link repeated earlier statements that to lower the fees would be unfair to the firm’s other clients.
Gotta love Florida!