Attorney John Pierce said he would step back from the #Fightback Foundation to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest
A lawyer representing 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse has resigned from his position with a defense fund that has raked in more than $700,000 to defend his client and conservative causes.
Attorney John Pierce is defending Kyle Rittenhouse against intentional homicide charges for shooting two people to death and wounding a third during protests last month in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Pierce said he resigned from the #FightBack Foundation fund, which has raised money to defend Rittenhouse, to avoid any ‘appearance of conflict,’ USA Today reported.
‘FYI, just stepped off official #FightBack Foundation board to 100% focus on freeing Kyle and avoid any appearance of $$ conflict. All good,’ Pierce said in a tweet on Saturday.
Pierce is part of the legal team defending Kyle Rittenhouse (left), who is charged with intentional homicide. Pierce’s firm will receive money from the foundation, which has raised $700,000, for participating in his defense. Pierce remains on Rittnehouse’s defense team
Pierce and his firm, Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht, have been accused of defaulting on millions of dollars owed to investors, according to court documents.
Pierce acknowledged in New York court documents earlier this year that he had failed to pay Karish Kapital $4 million for cash advances it had made to Pierce’s firm, which also has a much large payment of $65 million looming for another investor, USA Today reported.
According to a 2019 court filing made during a custody case and reported by the Daily Beast, Pierce has extensive personal debts. As of November 2019, Pierce claimed in those documents that he owed $850,000 to the IRS, along with an additional $200,000 in other taxes, the outlet reported. In total, Pierce claimed to pay nearly $20,000 in monthly payments on various debts.
A spokesperson for the law firm did not immediately respond to an inquiry from DailyMail.com on Saturday seeking comment from the firm and Pierce. But in a tweet, Pierce denied that the firm had any debt problems.
‘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.
Pierce and Lin Wood, another attorney who has taken up high-profile cases championed by conservatives, started the fund in early August. The fund is described as a way to ‘bring lawsuits to check the lies of the left.’
Wood, now the foundation’s controlling member, told USA Today that he had ‘no concerns’ about Pierce’s financial issues, saying that they predate the foundation’s formation and the attorney’s association with Rittenhouse.
He also said the foundation was nearing an agreement with an outside counsel as an additional safeguard on the foundation’s operation.
Kyle Rittenhouse faces intentional homicide charges for shooting two people to death and wounding a third during protests last month in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His attorneys say it is a clear-cut case of self-defense
‘If everybody who needed a lawyer was forced to hire a pristine firm, nobody would ever be able to hire a lawyer,’ said Wood.
Pierce has argued that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense when he shot the three people on August 25 during a third night of protests over the police shooting of Jabob Blake two days earlier, which was captured on cellphone video and posted online. Blake, a black man, was left paralyzed from the waist down in the shooting.
The Rittenhouse case has become a political flashpoint.
During his Tuesday visit to Kenosha, President Donald Trump gave an account at odds with the one given by prosecutors, implying that the teenager only shot the men after he tripped and they attacked him.
Two of the shootings, one fatal and one non-fatal, were captured on video, showing that Rittenhouse fired from the ground after tripping and being attacked by multiple people.
A separate fatal shooting occurred before the widely-circulated video. Rittenhouse’s attorneys insist that the first shooting, as well as the ones captured on video, were a clear-cut case of self-defense.
Wood, who now controls the foundation, said Pierce would be reimbursed for his work defending Rittenhouse.