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Second man found dead in California home of Democratic donor Ed Buck

Sheriff's investigators say they're also reviewing the earlier death in July 2017, when a young man's meth overdose was ruled an accident.
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LOS ANGELES — A dead man was found early Monday in the Los Angeles-area apartment of the Democratic fundraiser Ed Buck, authorities said — the second time a body has been discovered in his home in the last year and a half.

The dead man, whose identity wasn't disclosed, was found at 1:05 a.m. (4:05 a.m. ET) in Buck's apartment in West Hollywood after someone called 911, said Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Charles Moore, who said that while the Homicide Bureau was investigating, the cause of death remained unknown.

Image: Ed Buck, USA - Politics - New Jersey Governor Christie Campaigns for California Gubernatorial Candidate Whitman
Ed Buck at a town hall meeting for California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman in Los Angeles in September 2010. Chris Christie, then the governor of New Jersey, stepped off the stage and confronted Buck after he heckled Whitman from the audience.Ann Johansson / Corbis via Getty Images file

Federal election records show that Buck, 63, who has advocated for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues for decades, has donated more than $53,000 to Democratic candidates and to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since 2008.

In July 2017, authorities cleared Buck in the death of Gemelle Moore, 26, a gay male escort whose body was found in the same apartment after investigators declared his death to have been the result of an accidental overdose of crystal methamphetamine.

Investigators reopened the case last year after Moore's friends and family raised concerns that his political connections might have contributed to the decision. Prosecutors declined to bring charges in July, saying there was insufficient evidence. Buck resigned last year as a member of the steering committee of the Stonewall Democratic Club, a Los Angeles LGBT political group, in the wake of the questions surrounding Moore's death.

The sheriff's department said Monday that Buck was present during both incidents and that investigators were reviewing the 2017 case again.

Buck's attorney, Seymour Amster, told NBC News on Monday that Buck wasn't in custody and hadn't been charged in connection with Monday's death. He said the man was a "longtime friend" of Buck's who asked to come over.

"Ed was reluctant, but the friend was insistent, so Ed allowed the friend to come over," Amster said. A short time later, the man "began exhibiting bizarre behavior," which prompted Buck to call 911, Amster said.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center, one of the nation's biggest providers of LGBT programs, urged Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to investigate Monday's case aggressively.

"LGBT people have a considerable and urgent interest in a case that is so clearly linked to the health and safety of our community," the organization said in a statement. "The reports we have heard provide more questions than answers."

Buck first came to prominence in Arizona during the 1980s, when he led the successful drive to impeach Republican Gov. Evan Mecham, who had been widely denounced for remarks critical of the LGBT community and members of racial minority groups. Mecham was removed from office in 1988 in connection with allegations of misuse of campaign funds but was acquitted at his criminal trial later in the year.

Buck made headlines again in 2010 when he heckled Meg Whitman, a Republican candidate for governor of California, at a rally in Los Angeles. Chris Christie, then the governor of New Jersey, who was at the rally, stepped off the stage and confronted Buck. In an interview with MSNBC at the time, Buck called Christie a bully who was trying to intimidate him.