The family of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse has raised concerns about the massive funds raised to support his defense
The family of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse has raised concerns about the millions of dollars raised to support his legal defense.
The case became a national flashpoint, with elected Democrats accusing Rittenhouse of being a ‘white supremacist terrorist,’ though all involved were white, and conservatives insisting that he had acted in justified self-defense under imminent threat of harm.
A lengthy new article in the New Yorker examines the tensions between the family and the celebrity attorneys behind the foundation that raised funds for his defense, and reveals that Rittenhouse jetted off to Miami to meet the leader of the Proud Boys after making bail, and hopes to become a pediatric nurse.
In an interview with the New Yorker, Kyle’s mother Wendy Rittenhouse expressed her concerns about the #FightBack Foundation, the group founded by attorney John Pierce.
‘Kyle was John’s ticket out of debt,’ Wendy said of Pierce, who stepped down from the #FightBack board in early September to avoid any ‘appearance of conflict’ as reports emerged about his deep debts, according to the New Yorker.
Lin Wood, the famous defamation lawyer who has recently pushed theories related to QAnon and the presidential election, took over as CEO of the foundation on September 2.
Kyle Rittenhouse appears for an extradition hearing in Lake County court Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, in Waukegan, Illinois
Kyle’s mother Wendy Rittenhouse expressed her concerns about the #FightBack Foundation, the group founded by attorney John Pierce (left). It is now led by Lin Wood (right)
Wendy in the interview questioned why Kyle remained in jail nearly a month after the foundation said it had raised enough money to cover his $2 million bail, wondering if keeping him behind bars was a fund-raising ploy.
Wood told the New Yorker that notion was ‘blatantly false’. He did not immediately respond to an inquiry from DailyMail.com on Tuesday, and Pierce declined to offer immediate comment when reached.
Kyle became eligible for bail soon after his October 30 extradition from Illinois to Wisconsin, which set a $2 million cash bail for his release pending trial.
At that point, the #FightBack Foundation had easily topped the $2 million mark, according to the group’s website, which boasted of $2.1 million raised on October 1.
It was not until November 20 that Pierce paid Kyle’s bail, with a check from law firm Pierce Bainbridge, according to the New Yorker.
Wendy says she is pressing Pierce to return $40,000 in donated living expenses that she believed belonged to the family, a request she told the New Yorker he had refused.
‘He said we owed him millions—he ‘freed Kyle,” she told the outlet.
Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, spoke out in a new interview
Kyle Rittenhouse, left, with backwards cap, walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with another armed civilian on August 25, 2020
A protester clashes with armed civilian Kyle Rittenhouse as a man (R) shot in the chest during the confrontation reacts
The Rittenhouse family says they grew uncomfortable with Pierce, telling the New Yorker that he drank excessively in front of Wendy’s kids, called Kyle’s sister a ‘raging liberal,’ and charged the family for time spent shopping for a shirt to wear on Tucker Carlson’s show.
It is not the first time concerns have been raised about the foundation’s massive fundraising push and connection to Pierce and his firm, Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht, which has been accused of defaulting on millions of dollars owed to investors, according to court documents.
On December 3rd, Kenosha, Wisconsin prosecutors argued in a motion that the combination of Pierce’s substantial debt and his connection to #FightBack offered ‘ample opportunity for self-dealing and fraud.’
They referred to the foundation as a ‘slush fund’ with ‘unregulated and opaque’ finances.
Pierce has always maintained that his dealings with the foundation were above-board, and slammed claims that his firm was in debt as false.
‘Total fake news. Pierce Bainbridge P.C. has zero debt. I have stepped off the #FightBack board to avoid any potential conflict. Of course the firm will have to be paid for some of its work and expenses so we can keep the lights on,’ Pierce said in a September 5 tweet.
For his part, Wood seemed to lose interest in the Rittenhouse case as he became fixated on proving fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Wood was banned from Twitter after tweeting that former Vice President Mike Pence could ‘face execution by firing squad’ for ‘treason’ in the U.S. Capitol riot, and going on to claim the riot was ‘staged’ by left-wing forces.
Rittenhouse jetted to Miami and had lunch with Proud Boys leader after posting bail
Six days after the Capitol riot, Kyle and his mother flew with Pierce to Miami for three days, where they met with Enrique Tarrio, according to the New Yorker.
Tarrio, the controversial leader of the Proud Boys, was the one who picked up Kyle and Wendy from the airport, the magazine said.
Pierce introduced Tarrio as another client, and the four of them went out to lunch at a Cuban restaurant. The Rittenhouse family declined to tell the New Yorker what was discussed at the lunch.
Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio rallies in Portland, Oregon in a 2019 file photo
The Proud Boys are a far-right group known for physical confrontations with their political adversaries, and members of the group have espoused white supremacist or anti-Jewish ideology.
Dave Hancock, a former Navy SEAL who has been handling security for the Rittenhouse family, told the magazine that the family was uncomfortable with the meeting, and blamed Pierce for orchestrating the encounter and exposing Rittenhouse ‘to elements that hurt him.’
Hancock, called the Proud Boys ‘f***ing losers,’ said that Rittenhouse initially ‘may have thought it was kind of cool to see people fighting for him, but when he learned what they were all about it didn’t sit well with him.’
He added: ‘He’s just as horrified by the white-supremacist part of it as anybody.’
Though the Miami lunch has not been previously publicly revealed, images circulated showing Rittenhouse partying in a Racine, Wisconsin bar called Pudgy’s with men displaying Proud Boys tattoos, singing the song from the Little Mermaid that is the group’s anthem.
The terms of his bond have been amended to prohibit contact with ‘known members of any violent white power / white supremacist groups.’
Images circulated showing Rittenhouse partying in a Racine bar called Pudgy’s with men displaying Proud Boys tattoos
Rittenhouse and his family are in hiding at an Indiana ‘safe house’ where he is looking at colleges and aspires to work in pediatric nursing
Kyle, his mother and two sisters are currently hiding out in a secluded safe house near South Bend, Indiana after being bombarded with death threats, according to the New Yorker.
The four-bedroom house has been comfortably furnished through donations, with a new sectional sofa, a Keurig coffeemaker, and bed linens from Walmart, according to a reporter from the magazine who visited.
Kyle has a bedroom furnished with a PlayStation and a desktop computer, which he has been using to research colleges.
He told the reporter he hoped to go into pediatric nursing, inspired by his mother, who is a certified nursing assistant.
Rittenhouse is now looking at colleges, and hopes to go into pediatric nursing
‘Seeing how my mom and her co-workers work with their patients, and how they treat their families—those people are having the worst day of their lives, and they need somebody to fall onto and rely on,’ he told the magazine. ‘That’s something I want to do.’
The family insists that Kyle’s actions were in self-defense, as he was confronted by violent demonstrators.
‘I’m sorry to the families—we all are sorry,’ Kyle’s sister Faith told the magazine. ‘We think about it—a lot.’
‘That day, I felt a part of me die,’ Wendy said. Faith said, ‘Because Kyle had to defend himself? And, if he didn’t, he would have died?’
Wendy said, ‘Yeah.’ She started to cry: ‘He didn’t want to kill them!’