A well known Republican donor and GOP political operative from Chicago who was hunting for Hillary Clinton’s missing emails was found dead in a Minnesota hotel room with a suicide note that said “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER.”
Days earlier, Peter W. Smith, 81, a wealthy financier known for his GOP opposition research – had given an interview to the Wall Street Journal about his efforts to track down Clinton’s emails through Russian hackers. Smith assembled a team, which considered retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn an ally, and he told the Journal that he and his team found five groups of hackers – two of them Russian – who claimed to have Clinton’s missing emails.
When Smith died on May 14th, the lead reporter on the WSJ story said on his podcast that he had no reason to believe the death was suspicious and that Smith likely had died of natural causes.
The Chicago Tribune, however, obtained Smith’s death certificate that says otherwise:
Smith committed suicide in a hotel near the Mayo Clinic at 1:17 p.m. on Sunday, May 14. He was found with a bag over his head with a source of helium attached. A medical examiner’s report gives the same account, without specifying the time, and a report from Rochester police further details his suicide.
In the note recovered by police, Smith apologized to authorities and said that “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER” was involved in his death. He wrote that he was taking his own life because of a “RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017” and timing related “TO LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION EXPIRING.”
According to police, Smith also told a man at his hotel “Tomorrow is my last day,” while he printed documents in the business center between 8 and 9 pm on May 13.
Thorn in Clinton’s side
Smith has a long history of digging up dirt on democrats – focusing much of his efforts on Bill Clinton’s misdeeds, including “Troopergate” allegations of sexual misconduct by Clinton – then Governer of Arkansas. Smith also financed a probe of a 1969 trip Bill Clinton took to the Soviet Union while in college, according to salon magazine.
Recrods show that Smith’s death occurred at the Aspen Suites in Rochester, MN where he was likely visiting a doctor at the Mayo clinic. According to the Chicago Tribune, one of Smith’s employees thought the GOP financier had been undergoing treatment for a heart condition.
Smith was found with a bag over his head filled with helium attached to a tank, and a suicide note was found:
In the note recovered by police, Smith apologized to authorities and said that “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER” was involved in his death. He wrote that he was taking his own life because of a “RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017” and timing related “TO LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION EXPIRING.” –Chicago Tribune
Helium gas has become a popular method of suicide, as it is painless. The Florida nonprofit “Final Exit Network” provides information and support to people suffering from a terminal illness who would like to commit suicide. Their book “Final Exit” by Derek Humphrey explains the helium gas method in detail.
Police found a receipt from a local Walmart from the day before Smith died for the purchase of “Helium Jumbo” and other items, however because no foul play was suspected, surveillance tapes proving Smith bought the helium were not sought.
Final blog posts
According to the Chicago Tribune, Smith wrote two blog posts the day before his death. One challenged U.S. intel agency findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The second post predicted “As attention turns to international affairs, as it will shortly, the Russian interference story will die of it’s own weight.”