Brad Bauman, the spokesman for Seth Rich’s family, is affiliated with Democratic causes and politicians and has frequently criticized Donald Trump and Republicans.
This fact was something that WikiLeaks took pains to make sure people knew on May 16 when Bauman, representing the Rich family, fired back at a conservative private investigator who made unproven – and now recanted – allegations to a local Washington D.C. Fox affiliate about WikiLeaks and Rich. WikiLeaks called Bauman a “professional Democrat.”
The family’s statement, released by Bauman, said the Rich family had seen no evidence nor emails, and it distanced Rich’s family from the PI, Rod Wheeler, who himself told Buzzfeed a Fox 5 story on the case was inaccurate. Fox News then reported that it had spoken to an unnamed federal investigator who made similar unproven claims relating to Gavin MacFadyen, a now deceased journalist allied with WikiLeaks.
According to the New York Times, the Rich family is demanding retractions from Fox. Newsweek reports that the FBI is not investigating the Rich murder.
Fox has now retracted its story, writing:
“On May 16, a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation into the 2016 murder of DNC Staffer Seth Rich. The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed.
We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted.”
Rich, an analyst with the Democratic National Committee, was shot to death on a Washington D.C. street in 2016 in what police said may have been a robbery attempt. However, the murder remains unsolved, and it’s fueled a web of unproven conspiracy theories.
Bauman wrote on Facebook that he is disgusted by the conspiracy theories and alleged that Seth Rich is being “used by Russia and allies to try and distract everyone, and guess what…it’s working..” He claimed “the emails are doctored.”
Bauman told Buzzfeed there was a “special place in hell” for people pushing the Rich conspiracy angle, and he said that “Rich’s job at the DNC had nothing to do with IT or internal cybersecurity, so the hack wouldn’t have been in his domain” and he wouldn’t have had access to the emails obtained by WikiLeaks. He accused people pushing the conspiracy angle of having a “political agenda that is wholly un-American” and referred to it as “insane rantings.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Bauman Is a Crisis Communications Expert Who Works for a Firm With Progressive Ties & Urged Civil Disobedience to Force an Independent Investigation on Russia
Bauman is entrenched in progressive circles. On Facebook, he frequently comments about politics, writing on May 9, “At what point are House and Senate members going to stage a sit in on the floor or some act of civil disobedience in order to force a vote on an independent investigation on Russia?”
In 2016, he wrote of Republicans, “The Republican Party has become such a hotbed for scam artists, hucksters and sociopaths trying to screw you that they have straight up started screwing their own clients.”
He’s also a frequent Donald Trump critic. Example from Facebook: “To sum up Trump’s 100 days of foreign policy: Unannounced photo-ops with family members and admin officials and provocative un-strategic bombings and fake naval deployments are enough to show strength to American audiences. This is us getting played.” He also wrote, “Our president has no respect for America.”
His LinkedIn site says he is a partner at the Pastorum Group, from January 2016 to present. He says he manages “a crisis communications and full service public relations firm.”
His page says he also works as a communications consultant and has since January 2014. In that role, he provides “strategic communications advice to Democratic candidates and labor unions,” his LinkedIn page says.
Bauman also “created state specific messaging and communications strategies for major legislative and electoral battles” and “created and executed national training program that has trained over 150 communicators and political staff in key battleground states,” his LinkedIn page says.
He also “developed message guidance for progressive allies,” the page asserts.
According to Campaigns and Elections, the Pastorum Group made a push for business by arguing that “its principals live the values of the progressive movement.”
“In our business, we sometimes forget our firms need to be in line with what we actually believe,” Bauman told the site. “We need to actually do business in the most compassionate, most progressive way we possibly can.”
The Pastorum Group is described as “a full-service, progressive, values-first communications and political strategy firm working with candidates, causes and coalitions to create meaningful social change.”
The group’s Facebook page is filled with comments opposing Republicans and Donald Trump on issues ranging from healthcare to equal pay. Members of the firm took to the streets to protest Trump’s 100th day in office, the Facebook page says.
2. Bauman Was Executive Director for the Congressional Progressive Caucus & Participates in Storm Chasing
Before he worked in his current positions, Bauman worked on Democratic causes in Congress.
His LinkedIn page says he was executive director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus from 2011 through 2014 in Washington D.C.
In that job, he was “responsible for overseeing all legislative, communications, outreach and political programs for the second largest caucus in Congress.”
Bauman’s page says he “helped lead major legislative battles including protections to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, fighting Income inequality, for immigration reform and against budget sequestration.”
Bauman “worked with major progressive allies to craft and push progressive agenda items in Congress” and “founded Progressive Action PAC, the first PAC to be associated with the members of the CPC.”
On Facebook, he’s posted frequently recently about storm chasing trips. He wrote in April, “Storm chasing is supposed to start tomorrow but we are getting a head start today as things look rather unsettled across Oklahoma.”
3. Bauman Once Worked for Democratic Politicians
As Communications Director for Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy for seven months in 2010-2011, Bauman “managed both congressional and campaign communications for one of the top ten house races in the country,” his LinkedIn page says.
Kilroy is a former Democratic representative from Ohio.
He helped with televised debates, research and fundraising efforts. His Facebook page says he is also the former Communications Director at Office of Congressman Tim Ryan and worked at the AFL-CIO. Ryan is also an Ohio Democrat.
4. Bauman, Acting as the Rich Family Spokesman, Attempted to Distance the Family From Wheeler’s Account
Bauman emerged as the spokesman for the Seth Rich family after Private Investigator Rod Wheeler went on Fox 5 DC television and made allegations about WikiLeaks.
However, Wheeler has stepped back from the account, telling Fox News that he had no personal knowledge of what he had alleged, and saying, “I don’t know for sure, I don’t know as a matter of fact…”
That’s fueled conspiracy theories which took root long ago because of Rich’s work as a DNC analyst and WikiLeaks’ role in publishing DNC emails that some blame for derailing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, has done little to dissuade conspiracy theorists. Assange also retweeted the Fox 5 story on Wheeler, a former police homicide detective, who is a Fox News contributor, Donald Trump supporter, and who has a history of controversial statements on television.
According to UK Daily Mail, Wheeler recanted his comments, and Rich’s family sent the private investigator “a cease and desist letter threatening legal action.”
According to NBC News, a lawyer for the Rich family sent a letter to Wheeler that said, “Your statements and actions have caused, and continue to cause, the Family severe mental anguish and emotional distress. Your behavior appears to have been deliberate, intentional, outrageous, and in patent disregard of the Agreement and the obvious damage and suffering it would cause the Family. Your improper and unauthorized statements, many of which are false and have no basis in fact, have also injured the memory and reputation of Seth Rich and have defamed and injured the reputation and standing of the members of the Family.”
NBC News reported of Wheeler, “Wheeler has since completely recanted his story, both in the press and in a private message to Rich’s family. The private investigator told other outlets the Fox reporter essentially put words in his mouth by giving him information that he then repeated in an on-camera interview.” Although the family has asked for an apology and retraction from Fox 5, none has been granted thus far, reported NBC.
Bauman, speaking for the Rich family, released a statement on his personal Facebook page that read:
“This is the statement from the Rich family re: today’s little fake news story.
As we’ve seen through the past year of unsubstantiated claims, we see no facts, we have seen no evidence, we have been approached with no emails and only learned about this when contacted by the press. Even if tomorrow, an email was found, it is not a high enough bar of evidence to prove any interactions as emails can be altered and we’ve seen that those interested in pushing conspiracies will stop at nothing to do so. We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth’s murderers. The services of the private investigator who spoke to press was offered to the Rich family and paid for by a third party, and contractually was barred from speaking to press or anyone outside of law enforcement or the family unless explicitly authorized by the family.”
Bauman also took to his personal page on Facebook again. He wrote:
Wanna know what I think? I’ve known the Rich family for a year now…they are some of the sweetest, most gentle people I’ve ever met.
They are a grieving family seeking answers, trying to get to the bottom of their sons murder. They don’t have the money to pursue the investigation the way that it needs to. So, they have been approached by ‘good samaritans’ who are claiming to be interested in helping get to the bottom of it, and when they accept their help, they find out there is an ulterior motive behind the help.
Because they are loving and trusting, and just want answers desperately, they accepted the help not knowing that their sons legacy would be contorted and manipulated so that every time there is a flare up in the Trump/Russia story, that their son would be used by Russia and allies to try and distract everyone, and guess what…it’s working.
The emails are doctored, their timing is suspicious, the private investigator wasn’t hired by the family…he was hired by another person who was ‘just trying to help’
So now, these poor folks have two massive problems, a murder that still hasn’t been solved and a son’s legacy which has become a manipulated, fake news story.
I’m sick to my stomach by how disgusting this is. I hope to G-d that the folks who have used Seth and used the Richs get what coming to them in this world or the next.
Bauman told NBC News that the person who urged the Rich family to hire Wheeler and offered to pay for his services was a Breitbart and Fox News contributor from Dallas named Ed Butowsky. That man told Buzzfeed that he hasn’t been paid anything, though.
5. Bauman Has a Master’s Degree in Political Management
According to his LinkedIn page, Bauman has a master of arts degree from George Washington University in political management.
He also has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida International University, and he previously worked for the Sunlight Foundation, which works to highlight government transparency.
Bauman, who is single, is from Miami, his Facebook page says.