Another Suspicious Lead Paint Relationship is Revealed
When the state dropped DuPont Co. from its sweeping lawsuit against former makers of lead paint last year, one of the terms was that DuPont would donate $9 million to the Children’s Health Forum for clean-up and education efforts in Rhode Island.In case you’ve lost track, let’s recap the whole history of unusual relationships that have been revealed in this case so far…
Attorney General Patrick Lynch at the time described the group as a national nonprofit organization focused on preventing childhood exposure to lead.
What no one mentioned were the extensive ties between DuPont and Washington-based Children’s Health Forum: It was founded by a lawyer hired by DuPont to work on lead poisoning issues; it received most of its funding from the Wilmington, Del.-based company and most of its board members have ties to DuPont.
Government watchdogs say the relationship between the two, not previously reported, casts a new cloud over the deal, which let DuPont out of a case that could cost other lead paint companies billions of dollars.
- The state of Rhode Island sues five paint manufacturers, Atlantic Richfield, DuPont, Millennium Holdings, NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams for creating a “public nuisance” by selling lead paint (the companies are not tried under product liability laws because the state’s case is too weak).
- The Rhode Island Attorney General’s office retains private law firms to represent the state on a contingency basis. One of the law firms is Motley-Rice. At some point, Motley-Rice pledges money to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for reasons unrelated to the lead paint action.
- In July of 2005, Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch agrees to drop DuPont from the suit in return for DuPont donating $12,500,000 to various charities. Eventually, three of the other defendants (Millennium, NL, Sherwin) are held responsible for damages that could amount to billions.
- Around the same time he is negotiating DuPont’s relatively cheap release from the lawsuit, the lawyer and the wife of the lawyer representing DuPont donate $2,500 to Patrick Lynch’s re-election campaign.
- One charity selected to receive a payout from DuPont payout is Brigham and Women’s Hospital which has no anti-lead poisoning program. According to testimony from Attorney General Lynch, they are included, at least in part, because of Motley-Rice’s unfulfilled pledges unrelated to lead paint.
- A second charity selected to receive a payout is the Children’s Health Forum, described in the excerpt at the top of this post. DuPont is thus released from the case in return for transferring money to an organization that it founded and already funds.