If you know the name Ed Butowsky, it’s probably as a Fox News talking head and not as a 2008 D Magazine profile subject. The Dallas-based millionaire money manager is in the headlines Tuesday for his bizarre role in maybe-but-maybe-not bankrolling a private investigation into a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer, of which right wing media sites have begun alleging is connected to the staffer having leaked Hillary Clinton’s emails to Wikileaks during the presidential election.
Washington D.C. police say Seth Rich’s murder in July of last year was the result of a robbery gone awry. But Butowsky apparently had different suspicions, and called up the family offering to pay for an investigation. He told Buzzfeed that he connected the family with fellow Fox News talker Rod Wheeler, who also has former D.C. murder police as part of his résumé. Wheeler has since taken to telling Fox News that a secret source within the department has assured him that there is a laptop being hoarded by either D.C. police or the FBI that shows that Rich was in contact with Wikileaks around the time of the leaks. By Tuesday evening, all this had been discredited—the FBI never touched the computer—and Wheeler walked back his statements. The family, meanwhile, declared there to be “a special place in hell” for anyone who politicized Rich’s death. Fox News’ Sean Hannity went with it anyway.
U.S. intelligence agencies have long pinned the DNC hacks on Russia, and Rich’s family says there’s “no evidence” and “no emails” connecting their son to such things. Butowsky has admitted to connecting the family with the P.I., but says no money changed hands. He didn’t return phone calls or emails to D on Tuesday afternoon. Some info about Butowsky: He’s a managing partner at Chapwood Investment in Addison. He’s had some big time clients, Hollywood actors and professional ball players, and, at least in 2008, counted director Peter Berg and golfer Sergio Garcia as friends. And he’s rustled up a whole lot of controversy with his latest activity.
“This can’t possibly go well,” he said of NBC News reporter Alex Seitz-Wald’s line of questioning. “I didn’t pay anybody. I didn’t hire anybody.”
And what he told Buzzfeed:
“(The family) said they didn’t feel they were getting any answers. The investigation wasn’t going anywhere. I said ‘why don’t you hire a private detective?’ They said they didn’t have any money. …”They negotiated something. In their contract it said, any money Rod is going to bill, Butowsky is going to pay. But Rod Wheeler has never billed me a penny. Nobody has ever paid anybody anything.”