A man was found dead at the home of prominent Democratic donor Edward Buck in West Hollywood early Monday morning, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
It’s the second death of an adult male at Buck’s home in the last couple years. In July 2017 a man identified as Gemmel Moore was determined to have fatally overdosed at the same location, authorities said. Buck, 64, was present at the time of both incidents.
Now police are conducting an investigation of Monday’s death as well as follow-up interviews and a secondary review of the 2017 death to better understand the two cases, authorities said.
Deputies responded to the home at 1:05 a.m. Monday regarding a person not breathing. They pronounced the man dead when they arrived, the Sheriff’s Department said. The cause of death is unknown and will be determined by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
The death of Moore, a 26-year-old black man, in July 2017 was determined to be an accidental methamphetamine overdose, the Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner’s website says.
The admissible evidence in the case was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Buck was responsible for Moore’s death, according to a charge evaluation worksheet from the LA County District Attorney in July 2018. The admissible evidence was also insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he furnished drugs to Moore or that he possessed drugs, the document states.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center, an organization that provides services and advocates for LGBT people, called on the Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to fully investigate the latest death and “aggressively seek justice.”
“Although the investigation is in its early stages, we urge Sheriff Villanueva to keep the public fully informed as LGBT people have a considerable and urgent interest in a case that is so clearly linked to the health and safety of our community,” the statement said. “The reports we have heard provide more questions than answers.”
Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, told CNN that Buck and the victim had been friends for over 25 years. He said he did not believe there would be charges filed in the case.
“Yes, Ed does have individuals he associates with who have problems with drugs. He tries to talk them out of it. Sometimes they bring their problems into his apartment, and that’s where the problem is,” Amster said.
Buck has donated to a number of Democratic candidates and PACs in recent years, according to information from OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in US politics.
In 2017, he gave $10,400 to the Getting Stuff Done PAC affiliated with Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, $2,700 to Rep. Ted Lieu of California, and $1,000 each to Rep. Jimmy Gomez of California, Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, and former Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
He also previously gave $2,700 to Hillary Clinton in 2015, $5,000 to the House Majority PAC that supports Democrats in 2014, and $1,000 to Barack Obama in 2008, according to OpenSecrets.
In 2010, Buck heckled California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman at a political event, according to news reports from NJ.com at the time. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was campaigning for Whitman, then confronted Buck.
“It’s people who raise their voices and yell and scream like you that are dividing this country,” Christie said. “We’re here to bring this country together, not to divide it.”