Michael Moskowitz, lawyer, lobbyist and Democratic fundraiser, dies at 68

Michael Moskowitz
He leaves a legacy of influence and accomplishment in and out of the courtroom.

Broward County lawyer, lobbyist and Democratic fundraiser Michael Moskowitz died late Saturday, a year and a half after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 68.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel first reported on Moskowitz’s death.

Moskowitz died just days after seeing his son, Jared Moskowitz, sworn in as an appointed Broward County Commissioner.

Moskowitz leaves a legacy of influence and accomplishment in and out of the courtroom. Past legal and lobbying clients include the Florida Panthers, for which he successfully sought an $86 million bailout using Broward tourism taxes, and Broward Teachers Union President Pat Santeramo.

More recently, Moskowitz defended Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony against a pair of lawsuits challenging his eligibility for the job and demanding back pay for untapped vacation time. He continued representing Tony through 2021.

He proved a formidable ally on the campaign trail. As a leading member of the Florida Democratic Party in 2008, Moskowitz hosted a fundraiser at his Parkland home for Hillary Clinton’s presidential run. He and his wife, Marilyn Moskowitz, did so again in 2015.

He also opened his 6,000-square-foot home to fundraising events for President Joe Biden (then a Vice President), former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, former U.S. Sen. Joe Liberman and former Florida Education Commissioner Betty Castor.

After receiving a pancreatic cancer diagnosis in July 2020, Moskowitz underwent treatment to fight the disease.

On Wednesday, he attended the swearing in of his son, Jared — a former Parkland Vice Mayor, state Representative and director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management — as a Broward Commissioner. The younger Moskowitz moved up the date of the ceremony and moved it to Parkland City Hall so his father could be there.

The original plan, the Sun-Sentinel reported, was for Moskowitz to swear his son in. That proved unfeasible, however, and Jared Moskowitz was instead sworn in by Judge Peter Weinstein, a family friend, with his father at his side.

The elder Moskowitz had been admitted into hospice care two days before but told his son to get him to the ceremony “come hell or high water.”

In a statement, the Broward Democratic Party said of Moskowitz: “Michael was a pillar of the community, especially in Broward County politics. He was a highly respected attorney and lobbyist for decades. He was a true believer in fairness and equality for all people… We are grateful for his warm personality and unwavering service to Broward County and across Florida.”

Broward County Mayor Michael Udine highlighted Moskowitz’s generous, caring nature.

“Mike was a tremendous person and a great friend,” he wrote. “I will miss him. Always there for anyone who needed him.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chaired the Democratic National Committee during Clinton’s second presidential run in 2016, described Moskowitz as “the most devoted parent, loyal friend, fierce competitor and true #mensch.”

“I will miss him and (am) so thankful I was able to tell him how much he meant to me,” she wrote Sunday on Twitter. “May his memory be for the blessing he was to so many.”

State Rep. Carlos Smith expressed similar praise.

“Michael Moskowitz was truly an amazing person,” he wrote. “His spirit, energy, and humanity lives (through his) family.”

Broward Commissioner Barbara Sharief said she would miss Moskowitz’s “competence, confidence, smile and sense of humor,” adding: “It has been a joy and a privilege having him as my friend.”

Joseph Abruzzo, clerk of the Palm Beach County Circuit Court and Comptroller, said Moskowitz was a “legal warrior and pragmatism,” as well as the best attorney he had ever seen in local action.

School safety activist Ryan Petty, whose daughter was among those killed in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, said Moskowitz is “the model for making a community better than he found it.”

Lobbyist Jared Rosenstein, who worked as a legislative affairs director under Jared Moskowitz at the Department of Emergency Management, called the elder Moskowitz ” a legend in the legal and political community.”

“He inspires me every day to be a good lobbyist but more importantly, a good Jewish man,” he wrote. “We love him, pray for him and will always honor him.”

Governmental affairs firm Rubin Turnbull & Associates wrote: “A friend like Mike Moskowitz doesn’t come along every day. We will hold every memory of Mike — his humor, wit, and kind heart — in our hearts forever. Thank you for all the days you’ve made brighter just by being you.”

Moskowitz received his law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1977 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Coat of Arms Society, the Justinian Society and was a recipient of the American Jurisprudence Award for Trusts.

A founder and managing partner of Fort Lauderdale law firm Moskowitz Mandell Salim & Simowitz, his legal expertise centered on all areas of governmental approval, land use, commercial litigation, real estate and health care law with emphasis on complex commercial litigation.

Clients of the firm, which opened in 1985, have included Broward County, BB&T, Citigroup, Coconut Creek, Deerfield Beach, Coldwell Banker, Fort Lauderdale, Hearthstone Inc., the Hertz Corporation, Holland Builders, Merrill Lynch, Miami Subs, Morgan Stanley, Palm Beach County School Board, Playbill Inc., UBS Financial Services and Wachovia Bank, among many others.

In addition to his wife and son, Jared, Moskowitz is survived by his son, Brett Moskowitz, daughter Jessica Isrow, and four grandchildren. Parkland City Commissioner Jordan Isrow is his son-in-law.

His funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Temple Beth Torah Sha’aray Tzedek in Tamarac.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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