Billboard ads will be posted in Washington D.C. this week seeking information about the unsolved murder of Democratic National Committee (DNC) staff member Seth Rich. The new advertisements will appear at city bus stops and at least one full-size billboard in the neighborhood where Rich was killed. The announcement was made Tuesday on what would have been Seth Rich’s 28th birthday.
Seth Rich, the 27-year-old DNC staff member was gunned down in the early morning hours of July 10 while walking home after drinking at a Washington, D.C. bar he frequently visited. The ShotSpotter sensor system used by D.C. Police detected the sound of gunshots at around 4:20 a.m. and patrol units found Seth Rich lying on the street with multiple bullet wounds to the head. Rich was still conscious but pronounced dead at a local hospital about an hour later. D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department has not named a suspect in the murder and has not indicated there is significant progress in the investigation.
The new ad campaign was organized by Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman out of concerns that Rich’s murder was not a failed robbery attempt, which D.C. Police claim is a possible explanation. Burkman’s concerns have echoed the thoughts of many who think Seth Rich’s murder may have been connected to his work and the DNC scandal involving over 25,000 leaked emails which proved internal corruption related to the Democratic party’s presidential nomination of Hillary Clinton. Burkman is the same lobbyist who also pledged more than $100,000 in reward money for information about the murder.
“There are too many dimensions to the tragedy and none seem to make any sense. I hope the $100,000 in additional money will finally get to the truth of what happened here and will either debunk the conspiracy theories or validate them,” Burkman said in the September statement at the time the reward was offered.
D.C. Police confirmed details which may indicate that the attack was not just a random robbery attempt. Seth Rich still had his wallet, cash and cell phone on him when police arrived. However, his watch band was damaged. Seth Rich’s mother told NBC Washington he had bruising from a struggle and it also appears he was attacked from behind.
“There had been a struggle. His hands were bruised, his knees are bruised, his face is bruised, and yet he had two shots to his back, and yet they never took anything,” she said. “They took his life for literally no reason. They didn’t finish robbing him, they just took his life,” Mary Rich continued.
The night of the murder, Seth Rich went drinking at Lou’s City Bar where he was known to be a regular. Rich usually sat in the same seat at the corner of the bar, usually showing up straight from the office in a shirt and tie. The Daily Mail reported that bar staff said Rich seemed upset, which was not typical of him, possibly over an argument with his girlfriend.
The Daily Mail’s report noted that Seth Rich normally had a high tolerance for alcohol but may have been unusually drunk by closing time, around 1:45 a.m. ‘It was rare for him to really show that he had been drinking,’ according to the manager on duty that night. ‘That was unusual for him. That was very, very unusual for him to do that.’
Staff at Lou’s City Bar say Rich declined to take the offer of a ride back home and instead opted to walk to a nearby bar called Wonderland to have a few more drinks. Wonderland closed at 2:30 a.m. that night. However, it is not confirmed that Rich actually made it to this bar.
The total period of time unaccounted for could be as high as 90 minutes from the 2:30 closing time of Wonderland until the 4 a.m. window when the murder may have begun. The Daily Mail’s report estimated it could have taken Rich about 30 minutes to reach home from the area of the two bars, possibly longer if the alcohol slowed him down. This could have left about one hour of time that cannot be verified, with the exception of the details of the phone call he made to his girlfriend. Police reported Seth Rich was still on the phone with his girlfriend at the time of the attack.
There are credible reports that the neighborhood was experiencing a trend in armed robberies. However, the same Daily Mail report notes the robberies abruptly stopped in the weeks following the murder. According to the D.C. Police, there were also two robberies in the area in the hour prior to Rich’s shooting.
While the events on the night of Seth Rich’s murder are not conclusive, the circumstances after Seth Rich’s murder are reasonably suspicious.
Some early reports first described Seth Rich as a low-level staff member, but as the case drew national attention, it was revealed that he was tasked with oversight of a national data program designed to increase voter turnout with the use of detailed maps to polling locations. The program used data collected from every voter precinct in the country. Some think this may have been a key factor in Seth Rich’s understanding of what was happening at the DNC, as reports emerged of vote-rigging fraud in the Democratic primaries in June.
On July 22, two weeks after the murder of Seth Rich, WikiLeaks published leaked emails from multiple senior members of the Democratic National Committee showing they made negative comments about the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders while the competitive presidential primary race was still ongoing. The DNC was accused of showing favoritism for Hillary Clinton and sabotaging the campaign of Bernie Sanders because the emails showed collusion between party officials and various media organizations. The emails included comments from DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was forced to resign days later and was immediately hired by the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
On July 25, the DNC issued a “deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email,” in a statement released on the opening day of the party’s convention in Philadelphia.
In August, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced a $20,000 reward for information about the murder. Assange then hinted that Seth Rich was the source who gave WikiLeaks the data, during an interview with Dutch TV’s Nieuwsurr.
Assange: Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often significant risks. There was a 27-year old that works for the DNC who was shot in the back… murdered.. for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington.
Host: That was just a robbery wasn’t it?
Assange: No. There’s no finding.
Host: What are you suggesting?
Assange: I am suggesting that our sources take risks and they become concerned to see things occurring like that.
Host: But was he one of your sources, then?
Assange: We don’t comment on who our sources are.
Host: But why make the suggestion?
Assange: Because we have to understand how high the stakes are in the United States and that our sources face serious risks… that’s why they come to us so we can protect their anonymity.
Host: But it’s quite something to suggest a murder… that’s basically what you’re doing.
American media has used the confusion to blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for giving the email data to WikiLeaks, causing Hillary Clinton to lose the election, even though no credible evidence has been given to support these conclusions. Although US President Barack Obama ordered an intelligence assessment to determine whether Russia did hack the email data, agencies including the FBI said they disagree with the C.I.A.’s conclusion that Russia was responsible, citing a lack of evidence.
In mid-December, the Daily Mail exclusively reported that WikiLeaks envoy Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, claimed he had personal knowledge that the source of the DNC emails was not Russia. Murray told the Daily Mail that he personally flew to Washington, D.C. for a secret meeting with one of the sources, who was a DNC insider.
‘The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks,’ said Murray.
On Friday, Burkman noted that he ‘finds credible’ and entirely new conspiracy theory — that Russian operatives had Rich killed after he uncovered information that Russia hacked the DNC. He based these claims based on two phone calls he received.
Hopefully, his money will “either debunk the conspiracy theories or validate them.”