Last week, Fox 5 DC’s report incited a storm of controversy after former D.C. police homicide detective Rod Wheeler stated that there was tangible evidence on murdered Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich’s laptop suggesting that he was communicating with Wikileaks prior to his death. The story generated a large amount of outrage, with outlets like the Washington Post and Vice labelling it a “conspiracy theory” and claiming that it had no basis in fact. But details regarding the political affiliation of spokespeople and representatives of the Rich family appear to indicate that the DNC may be prioritizing its own interests, minimizing alleged political elements to the tragedy.
I. Legal Representatives And Spokespeople For Rich Family Have Ties To DNC, Crime Connected Unions
Since Fox 5 DC’s report, a number of individuals speaking on behalf of the Rich family have blasted Fox News and Rod Wheeler for speaking out on the case. Rich family spokesman Brad Bauman insisted that anyone who continued to push the story either had a “transparent political agenda,” or were a sociopath. But an August 2016 tweet from Wikileaks revealed that Bauman is a crisis public relations consultant working with the Pastorum Group. A media release from the Pastorum Group reveals that Bauman previously worked for the DNC and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
The SEIU has previously been reported by the Wall Street Journal as a “top spender” for the Democrats, openly endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and actively assisted in her campaign. It has been widely criticized by some groups for the involvement of union members in crimes including embezzlement, criminal conspiracy, perjury and identity theft. The SEIU is also a client of the Strategic Consulting Group, which was founded by the Democratic operative Robert Creamer. In 2016, Creamer was implicated in footage obtained by journalist James O’Keefe which revealed that Creamer was engaging in voting fraud and violent disruption of political events, sometimes using his connections to unions who were as clients of his.
Bauman’s past professional ties to the DNC and the SEIU raise questions about the vehemence with which he has attacked journalists reporting on the circumstances of Seth Rich’s murder.
On May 19th, Rod Wheeler was sent a cease and desist letter on behalf of the Rich family by Joseph Ingrisano of the law firm Kutak Rock LLP. Kutak Rock has a long history of incredibly close affiliation with DNC politicians. The law firm donated $21,850 and $13,400 to President Barack Obama during his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, respectively. Kutak also gave $11,800 to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential bid.
Kutak also has ties to the Rose Law Firm, which was at the center of the infamous Whitewater Controversy during the 1990’s. Hillary Clinton as well as White House staffer Vince Foster both practiced law at Rose, though Clinton has sought to distance herself from the firm given the allegations of scandal that surrounded it. On April 13th, 1998, Arkansas Business reported that a number of attorneys from Rose left the firm for Kutak Rock. Kutak Rock continues to maintain offices in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Pro-Democrat interests have also taken to Change.org to attack companies advertising with Fox 5 DC. The boycott campaign is organized by Karl Frisch, a former senior fellow at propaganda group Media Matters for America who spent his time at the organization helping develop “long-term strategy to target Fox News as a political actor.”
II. Rich Family’s Statements To The Public Are Inconsistent With Those Of Their Representatives
Despite the instance of representatives to the contrary, the Rich family have released multiple statements expressing gratitude to individuals privately attempting to help answer questions surrounding Rich’s murder and indicating fatigue at efforts from both sides to politicize the tragedy. On April 24th, Seth Rich’s parents released a video thanking those who had “stepped forward” to help identify their son’s killers and donated to the family’s GoFundMe. A May 18th update to the GoFundMe page by Seth Rich’s brother Aaron exhibited a general annoyance at third parties who were using the family for political motives. He asked for help that would allow the family to solve Rich’s murder without having to “rely on aid offered with strings.”
The Rich family themselves appears divided on who was responsible for Seth Rich’s murder. Rich’s cousin, Jonathan Rich, told Sean Hannity on Twitter that he suspected Rich might have been in touch with Wikileaks. The topic clearly continues to remain controversial for the family.
III. The Investigation Into Rich’s Murder Has Been Marked By Incompetence
Facts about the investigation into Rich’s murder continue to raise concerns about the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s efforts to identify Seth Rich’s killers. The public incident report filed after Rich’s death shows that several officers who responded to the scene of the crime were wearing body cameras. But the Metropolitan Police claimed the footage was “lost” when met with requests to release the videos, which might have provided important clues. A May 21st, 2017 report by World Net Daily has also established that police failed to speak with staff at Lou’s City Bar (where Rich was last seen alive) to enquire about whether they had any pertinent evidence.
Even stranger, police chief Cathy Lanier resigned just a month after Rich’s death. Her replacement, Peter Newsham, has been plagued by past allegations of alcoholism and domestic violence. Newsham was also accused of severely mishandling a rape case after the family of an 11 year old girl alleged that he allowed the victim to be charged with filing a false report despite several medical accounts detailing her sexual injuries and genetic evidence indicating that she had been abused by multiple assailants.
It is also not clear why police would seize Rich’s laptop for an investigation into what was supposed to be a robbery gone bad. The Washington Post claimed that neither the FBI nor the police were in possession of Rich’s laptop. But this claim contradicts a report by the Washington Examiner which cited a former law enforcement official who stated that the laptop was examined during the investigation.
Whether the truth about who killed Seth Rich will emerge or not remains to be seen. In the aftermath of Fox 5 DC’s claims, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom claimed he would provide proof that Seth Rich was the source of Wikileaks DNC email release on May 23rd. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has additionally hinted that while Wikileaks never discloses their own sources, other parties may hold important information concerning Seth Rich’s potential communications with the publisher.
Should information emerge showing that Seth Rich did in fact act as a source for Wikileaks, the intense denials from national media outlets and the intimate involvement of figures tied to the DNC in the case will undoubtedly fuel renewed allegations of a politically motivated cover up.