The campaign of Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu announced Tuesday night it would be distancing itself from $18,500 in contributions the congressman has received in recent years from liberal donor Ed Buck after the Washington Free Beacon inquired about the money.
The Advocate reported that an unidentified "young African American man" died in Buck's apartment early Monday morning, marking the second time an individual has died in Buck's West Hollywood apartment. Gemmel Moore, a male escort, died in Buck's residence during the summer of 2017. Moore's death was ruled an accidental methamphetamine overdose.
"I've become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that," Moore wrote in his journal in December 2016. "Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth."
The Los Angeles district attorney did not bring charges against Buck for Moore's death at the time, claiming that there was "insufficient evidence" to do so. Buck has maintained his innocence for the death.
Sen. Krysten Sinema (D., Ariz.) distanced herself from Buck during the 2018 election cycle by pushing the $33,800 in contributions she received from Buck over the years to charity. Other Democratic politicians have also given up their money—even amounts as low as $250.
Buck first donated to Lieu during the 2014 election cycle, making donations of $2,600 for both the primary and general election, Federal Election Commission filings show. During the 2016 cycle, Lieu received two maxed out donations totaling $5,400 for the primary and general. Buck again gave the maximum total donation of $5,400 to Lieu during the 2018 cycle.
However, Lieu has remained silent on his donations on Buck until now.
When contacted by the Free Beacon Tuesday afternoon, Lieu's Washington, D.C., congressional office—which cannot field campaign-related questions—provided a campaign contact email that included the first name "Marc" at Lieu's campaign. The email bounced back as undeliverable. The office then provided another email that included the last name "Cevasco" at the campaign, which worked.
Marc Cevasco has been the chief of staff in Lieu's D.C. office since 2015, according to Legistorm.
"Thanks for reaching out Joe. We just issued the following release," Cevasco responded late Tuesday night, linking to Lieu's campaign website.
"I am deeply disturbed by the latest revelations of a second death by overdose at the home of Ed Buck," Lieu said in the statement. "While we await the results of the law enforcement investigation, I am going to donate the contributions I have received from Mr. Buck to my federal campaign over the years to the following charities:
Lambda Legal – $5,000
NAACP – $5,000
GLAAD – $3,000
The Trevor Project – $3,000
Equality California Institute – $2,500"
Following Moore's death in Buck's Hollywood apartment, a number of young gay black men have said that the Democratic donor has a "fetish for shooting drugs into black men he picks up off the street or hookup sites."
Activists in Los Angeles have accused officials in Los Angeles of failing to bring charges against Buck due to his political contributions, which include donations to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and West Hollywood city council members.
Buck's lawyer has said the most recent death in Buck's apartment was an accidental overdose.
"From what I know, it was an old friend who died of an accidental overdose, and, unfortunately, we believe that the substance was ingested at some place other than the apartment," Buck’s lawyer told the Los Angeles Times. "The person came over intoxicated."