The Fall of Democratic Power Player Ed Buck

Arrested California Dem donor propped up causes and candidates for years

Ed Buck / Facebook

Ed Buck used to mingle with prominent Democrats while simultaneously filling their campaign coffers with generous contributions. All of it came crashing down after two men died in his West Hollywood apartment over the course of two years and, most recently, a third overdosed but survived, leading to Buck's arrest.

Buck was taken into custody Tuesday after he shot up his third victim with two substantial doses of methamphetamine, causing an overdose, in the same fashion as his first two victims. Buck attempted to stop his most recent victim from seeking aid, but the man escaped and made his way to a gas station to call for help.

Buck, who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats nationwide, is now charged with "three counts of battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine, and maintaining a drug house." Court filings describe the liberal power player as a "violent, dangerous sexual predator" who preyed on the poor and homeless while manipulating them into "participating in his sexual fantasies."

Buck, a businessman and activist from Arizona who in the late 1980s successfully ran a campaign to impeach Arizona Republican governor Evan Mecham, pocketed large sums of money running Gopher Courier, a company he sold before moving to California in 1991.

The well-known LGBTQ activist and multimillionaire became politically involved locally by running for West Hollywood city council. He also poured money into a number of Democratic campaigns and causes, including local, state, and federal efforts. He has donated more than $500,000 to such efforts.

Buck has given to the likes of Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and district attorney Jackie Lacey. West Hollywood mayor John Duran received $12,500 in 2012 and 2016 from Buck, according to CBS Los Angeles. Kevin de Leon, a former California state senate leader, received nearly $20,000 from the financier over the course of several campaign cycles. Former governor Jerry Brown and West Hollywood city council members have also been on the receiving end of Buck's political giving.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) took the maximum donation of $2,700 from Buck in 2016. Rep. Ted Lieu (D., Calif.) took nearly $20,000 from Buck but returned the money after the Washington Free Beacon inquired about the donations following the second death in January.

Buck also gave to the presidential campaigns of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Other Democrats on the national level, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.), have also received tens of thousands of dollars from Buck.

Following the deaths in Buck's home, the Democratic politicians separated themselves from the money by donating it to a variety of charities when questioned on the contributions.

Before Buck's third victim came to light, some warned of Buck's ways. Following the initial incidents, a group of gay black men came forward and said that Buck had a fetish for "shooting drugs into youthful black men he picks up off the street and on hookup sites."

In December 2016, Gemmel Moore, a 26-year-old black male escort, wrote in a journal that he had become addicted to drugs and that Buck was "the one to thank." Moore said Buck had given him his first dose of crystal meth. In the summer of 2017, Moore turned up dead in Buck's apartment from a drug overdose. At the time of Moore's death, the Los Angeles district attorney ruled that there was "insufficient evidence" to bring charges against Buck.

A year and a half later, in January 2019, a second black man, 55-year-old Timothy Dean, died in Buck's home from a methamphetamine overdose. Dean's death ignited protests from local activists who gathered outside of Buck's apartment. "We shouldn't even be here. There shouldn't be a second victim," the mother of Gemmel Moore told the crowd at the time.

Many have called for Buck to be brought to justice for years. Jasmyne Cannick, a California-based community activist, accused Los Angeles officials of not prosecuting Buck due to his political contributions. Buck's attorneys have maintained that the deaths were accidental.

"Arrest Ed Buck, prosecute Ed Buck, and then a jury needs to convict Ed Buck," Cannick said at a protest outside of his apartment following the second death. "This man has had two dead bodies in his house, and he is still in his house."

Buck remained free for nine more months after the second death, until he injected his third victim who was lucky enough to escape.