Who runs #FightBack Foundation? Kyle Rittenhouse’s mom accuses lawyers of ‘fundraising ploy’
The celebrity lawyers at the heart of the #FightBack Foundation have been accused of using Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse as a "fundraising ploy". The shocking allegations were made by Rittenhouse's mother, Wendy, who claims that her son was simply "a ticket out of debt".
Following his infamous shooting of two men, Rittenhouse's case has become a major flashpoint nationally. Charged with two counts of homicide, Rittenhouse was defended by the internet. In February this year, prosecutors asked for a warrant to be issued in his name after he failed to update his current address, claiming 'death threats'. In November 2020, he gained additional notoriety after featuring in Joe Biden's election campaign ad on white supremacy, angering Wendy.
So far, things seem to have worked out alright for Rittenhouse. He was able to post the $2M bail, leading to him being spotted in a bar in December. Behind the scenes though, things haven't been so smooth as a breaking new article shows. According to Wendy, the #FightBack Foundation raised some concerns, that impacted her son's defense.
Who runs the #FightBack Foundation?
The legal team was founded by attorney John Pierce. In September he stepped down after concerns about his debts became public. Pierce was replaced by QAnon supporting defamation lawyer Lin Wood. Together, these two are the central figures of Wendy's allegations. "Kyle was John's ticket out of debt," Wendy said. When Rittenhouse was first charged, Peirce stepped forward to represent him. The California lawyer immediately began a massive fundraising campaign for his freedom.
He was forced to step down a while later after it emerged that all was not well with Pierce. It emerged that he was involved in numerous lawsuits, domestic disputes and was in deep debt. Among the numerous allegations against Pierce is the fact he has breached child support obligations and was slapped with two domestic violence restraining orders. His law firm Pierce Bainbridge LLP was reportedly at least $70M in debt, forcing vendors to sue him for breach of payment.
As his woes came to light, Kenosha County prosecutor Thomas Binger filed to argue against having him on Rittenhouse's defense. Eventually, he stepped down, both from the case and from the #FightBack Foundation. He was replaced by Wood, who "attempted to turn Rittenhouse’s legal case into a cultural battle". Like Pierce, Wood's name was also embroiled in numerous controversies. He espoused QAnon theories, as well as false claims about the presidential election. Wood also represented the McCloskeys, who pointed guns at BLM protestors in St Louis.
The case of Rittenhouse
The explosive details of Rittenhouse's defense were unveiled by The New Yorker. According to the publication, The Fight Back foundation agreed to raise and cover the legal fees for Rittenhouse, since they couldn't directly represent him. In Wisconsin, a homicide case requires representation by a local lawyer. So Rittenhouse hired Chris Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson Goetz to represent him.
That's when the accusations against the foundation began. By October 1, it had raised $2.1M for Rittenhouse. On October 30, Rittenhouse was extradited to Wisconsin, and scheduled to appear in court a few days later. Despite hitting the target weeks earlier, Rittenhouse was left in jail and didn't make bail until November 20, 2020. In the meantime, Wood became preoccupied with fighting the results of the presidential election, and Pierce made the family "uncomfortable". That led to the family creating and selling "Free Kyle" merchandise, which they are using to fund his defense.
While Wood has slammed the allegations, Pierce did not respond to requests for comment. Wendy also said that Pierce refused to return the $400,000 in donated living expenses, adding, "He said we owed him millions — he 'freed Kyle." The family is now hiding out near South Bend, Indiana, while the case continues, without the services of the #FightBack Foundation.