Patrick Lynch

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Patrick C. Lynch
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Attorney General of Rhode Island
Former officeholder
In office
2002 – 2010
PartyDemocratic
Education
Bachelor'sBrown University (1987)
J.D.Suffolk University Law School at Boston (1992)
Patrick C. Lynch (born February 4, 1965, in Providence, Rhode Island) is the former Democratic Attorney General of Rhode Island. On May 22, 2009, he announced his candidacy for the statewide office of governor then held by centrist Republican Donald Carcieri, who was barred by state term-limit laws from seeking a third consecutive term in office.[1] Nearly fourteen months later, however, after trailing his main primary opponent, General Treasurer Frank T. Caprio, in both recent polls and fundraising for months, Lynch reluctantly withdrew his bid in the state's gubernatorial contest.[2][3]

Biography

Shortly after graduating from law school in 1993, Lynch worked as a law clerk for Presiding Superior Court Justice Joseph Rodgers, Jr. The next year, he brought on by the State Attorney General's office, first as a special assistant then being named to the state's Organized Crime United. In 1999, he entered the private sector and joined the law firm of Tillinghast, Licht, Perkins, Smith & Cohen, LLP, where he remained until 2002 when he ran for attorney general.

Education

  • Bachelor's degree, Brown University (1987) in economics and political science
  • Juris Doctorate degree, Suffolk University Law School at Boston (1992)

Political career

Rhode Island Attorney General (2002-2010)

Lynch is well connected politically within the state of Rhode Island, with his late-father having served as the Mayor of Pawtucket and his brother serving as chairman of the state's Democratic Party.

During his tenure as the state's top law enforcer, Lynch advocated for stricter laws regarding drunken-driving and the use of handguns. He also proposed measures that would have linked school attendance rates and teenagers' driving privileges, increase penalties against people who provide alcohol to minors, and require school districts to put in place anti-bullying and school-safety plans. He also called for community prosecution, and paired state prosecutors with police personnel in Providence Police Department's neighborhood precincts with the goal of timely prosecution of drug crimes, robbery, and assault.

The Station nightclub fire

The first of Lynch's responsibilities following his election as state attorney general in November 2002 was to oversee the criminal investigation of the February 20, 2003, Station nightclub fire. The fire at the glam metal and rock n roll themed nightclub located in West Warwick, Rhode Island is considered to be the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in American history, killing 100 people, four of whom died after being admitted to local hospitals; another 230 people were left injured. Pyrotechnic sparks, set off by the tour manager of the night's headline band, Great White, which then ignited flammable sound insulation foam in the walls and ceilings around the stage, were cited as the cause of the blaze.

The two owners of the nightclub, Jeffrey A. and Michael A. Derderian, along with Daniel M. Biechele, former road manager of Great White, were charged on December 9, 2003, with 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Biechele plead guilty and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison on May 10, 2006; Jeffrey Derderian was ordered to serve a 10-year suspended sentence while his brother, Michael, received a fifteen year term in prison.

Some critics of Lynch's handling of the case argued that he failed to prosecute the one individual many considered to be the guiltiest party in the incident, Denis LaRocque, a West Warwick Fire Inspector who repeatedly inspected the Station nightclub prior to the blaze. The Rhode Island Attorney General argued, "Without malice or bad faith, criminal capability cannot attach to fire marshals." Others believe that LaRocque's failures to "order the abatement of the foam covering the doors, walls and ceilings" in addition to not posting a legal capacity at the nightclub qualified as an indication of bad faith. Though he was asked several questions, Lynch "refused to submit Denis LaRocque as a defendant to the Grand Jury."[4]

Lead paint lawsuit

Lynch also pursued a lawsuit against lead paint manufactures that was initiated by Whitehouse, his predecessor. The initial lawsuit ended in a mistrial while Whitehouse was in office. Lynch won a second lawsuit against Sherwin Williams Co., NL Industries, and Millennium Holdings, LLC., all former lead paint manufacturers. Another company, Atlantic Richfield Co., was acquitted by the jury. The case was closely monitored by other states and municipalities interested in whether former lead paint manufacturers are liable for problems their products caused after they stopped manufacturing it.

DuPont Co. settled out of court in June 2005, agreeing to pay $12 million to the Children's Health Forum. The agency agreed to use the money for lead paint abatement efforts and education campaigns. Lynch was criticized for accepting $4,250 in contributions from DuPont lawyers and lobbyists, and his opponent in the 2006 elections filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission. Lynch denied that the donations were related to the lawsuit, and a lawyer for DuPont who accounted (with his wife) for $2,500 of the donations called the complaint "rubbish."

Lynch was also criticized for the arrangement his office made with the law firm Motley Rice, which prosecuted the case. The firm agreed to cover the costs of the case in return for 16 2/3 percent of whatever damages the company won. Critics charged that this kind of relationship between law firm and government is improper because the law firms stand to benefit from a guilty verdict.

Controversies

CEI rating

In an analysis of state attorneys general published in July 2010, Lynch was named "The Nation's Fourth Worst Attorney General" by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. Basing their criteria on ethical breaches/selective application of the law, fabricating law, usurping legislative power, and predatory practices, the Rhode Island Attorney General, who at the time of the publication was a gubernatorial candidate, received a letter grade of F in the last three categories; he narrowly missed acquiring the failing mark in the initial grouping, receiving a letter grade of D- instead. The CEI sharply criticized Lynch for empowering "trial lawyers who donated to his campaign to seek hundreds of millions of dollars in contingency fees" for a nuance suit he prosecuted against paint companies, some of whom were eventually dropped from the case after making sizable financial contributions to his campaign.[5]

Ethics complaint

The Rhode Island State Republican Party filed a complaint against Lynch who they accused of violating the $75 limit on gifts established in the state's ethics code when he accepted a plane ticket from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association to speak at a conference in New Orleans about online child safety.[6] A month later, Rhode Island's Ethics Commission unanimously voted to dismiss the charge.[7]

Elections

2010

See also: Rhode Island gubernatorial election, 2010
Patrick Lynch for Governor of Rhode Island Campaign logo

Lynch announced on May 22, 2009, that he would be campaigning for the Democratic nomination in the 2010 gubernatorial election in Rhode Island, challenging State Treasurer Frank Caprio in the September 14, 2010,primary election.[1] A Quest Research poll conducted in late-February 2009 showed Caprio well ahead of Lynch 30 - 17.4% in the Democratic primary contest.[8] An October 2009 survey conducted by Alpha Research Associates revealed that both Democratic candidates would lose out to former-United States Senator Lincoln Chafee, who is running as an independent candidate, in a head-to-head matchup, though Caprio did have a significant advantage over Lynch.[9]

Since that time, however, Lynch had trailed his main primary opponent, General Treasurer Frank T. Caprio, in both recent polls and fundraising. In particular, he had "been struggling in his competition with the disciplined Caprio for support from the Democratic party base, which includes the activists who make up the Democratic State Committee, which endorsed Caprio over Lynch last month."[10] On Thursday, July 15, 2010, Lynch, after first leaking news to supporters, officially announced that he would be exiting the state gubernatorial race.[2][3]

2006

  • 2006 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary[11]
    • Patrick Lynch ran unopposed

On November 7, 2006, Patrick C. Lynch won re-election to the office of Rhode Island Attorney General. He defeated J. William W. Harsch (R) in the general election.

Rhode Island Attorney General, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngPatrick C. Lynch Incumbent 59.5% 225,824
     Republican J. William W. Harsch 40.5% 153,675
Total Votes 379,499
Election Results Via: Rhode Island Board of Elections

2002

  • 2002 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary[12]
    • Patrick Lynch ran unopposed

On November 5, 2002, Patrick C. Lynch won election to the office of Rhode Island Attorney General. He defeated J. William W. Harsch (I) in the general election.

Rhode Island Attorney General, 2002
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngPatrick C. Lynch 61.5% 191,488
     Independent J. William W. Harsch 38.5% 119,717
Total Votes 311,205
Election Results Via: Rhode Island Board of Elections

Campaign donors

2006 Race for Attorney General - Campaign Contributions
Total Raised $541,146
Total Raised by Primary Opponent N/A
Total Raised by Gen. Election Opponent $278,968
Top 5 Contributors Rhode Island Democratic Party $26,000 (4.8% of Total)
National Education Association Rhode Island $3,550 (0.66%)
Rhode Island Laborers Public Employees $2,650 (0.49%)
Norman R. Beretta, Sr. $2,200 (0.41%)
Rhode Island Carpenters $2,000 (0.37%)
Individuals v. Institutions $457,236 (84.5%)
$50,010 (9.2%)
In v. Outside State $388,561 (71.8%)
$152,510 (28.2%)

Personal

Separated for nearly five years, Lynch and his wife, Christine, "filed for divorce in Rhode Island Family Court"[13] on July 29, 2009, having reached an 'amicable' divorce settlement. The couple has had two children together - Kelsey and Graham.

Other roles

  • President, National Association of Attorneys General (2008-2009)
  • Secretary/Board Member, Advent House
  • Board Member, Brown Club of Rhode Island
  • Board Member, Camp Street Community Ministries
  • Past President, Saint Raphael Board

See also

External links

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References


Political offices
Preceded by
Sheldon Whitehouse (D)
Rhode Island Attorney General
2002–2010
Succeeded by
Peter Kilmartin (D)