Patrick Lynch (Rhode Island attorney general)

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Patrick Lynch
72nd Attorney General of Rhode Island
In office
January 7, 2003 – January 4, 2011
GovernorDonald Carcieri
Preceded bySheldon Whitehouse
Succeeded byPeter Kilmartin
Personal details
Born (1965-02-04) February 4, 1965 (age 54)
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materBrown University
Queen's University, Belfast
Suffolk University

Patrick C. Lynch (born February 4, 1965, Providence, Rhode Island) is an American lawyer who served as Rhode Island's Attorney General. He has overseen the investigation and prosecution of the second-deadliest fire in Rhode Island history and also successfully sued former lead paint manufacturers for cleanup costs associated with their old products. He easily won reelection in 2006.

He has two children, Kelsey and Graham.[1]

His brother is William J. Lynch, former Chairman of the Democratic Party of Rhode Island.

Early career[edit]

While attending St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Lynch excelled at basketball and baseball. He went on to attend Brown University, where he led the basketball team to its first Ivy League Championship and its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

He graduated from Brown University with a B.S. in Economics and Political Science in 1987 and took graduate courses at Queen's University of Belfast while playing professional basketball in Northern Ireland and taking part in a program called Sports Corps, modeled after the Peace Corps.

After returning to the United States, Lynch earned a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School in 1992. He then worked for two years as a clerk for Presiding Superior Court Joseph Rodgers, Jr., and then joined the R.I. attorney general's office in 1994. Lynch was eventually named lead prosecutor of the state's Organized Crime Unit. In 1999, Lynch joined Rhode Island law firm Tillinghast Licht Perkins Smith & Cohen, where he worked until being elected attorney general.[2][3]

Political career[edit]

Lynch formally announced his candidacy in March 2002 after incumbent Sheldon Whitehouse announced he would run for governor. Lynch was a well connected member of the Democratic Party - his father was a former Mayor of Pawtucket, Rhode Island and his brother was serving as Chairman of the R.I. Democratic Party. Lynch faced J. William Harsch, a former director of the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, who ran as an independent but had the endorsement of the state Republican Party.[4] Lynch won the election with 62 percent of the vote.[5]

While in office, Lynch has advocated for stricter laws regarding drunken-driving and the use of handguns. He has also proposed measures that would link 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 has also called for community prosecution, and has 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.[6]

Lynch has hung a plaque in his office with a quote from Spider-Man, "With great power comes great responsibility." Lynch said he got the inspiration for the plaque from his son, who said it before his inauguration in 2003.[7]

The Station nightclub fire[edit]

One of Lynch's first responsibilities as attorney general was to oversee the criminal investigation of the February 20, 2003, Station nightclub fire in West Warwick. With 100 deaths and many more injuries, the fire was the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history and the second-deadliest fire ever in Rhode Island, trailing only the USS Bennington fire that claimed 103 lives in the 1950s. The criminal investigation led to the sentencing of Daniel Biechele, the tour manager of the band whose pyrotechnics started the fire, and also resulted in no-contest pleas by the two co-owners of the nightclub.[8]

Lead paint lawsuit[edit]

Lynch has also continued to pursue 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.[9]

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 has since been 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 has 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."[10]

Lynch has also been 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​23 percent of whatever damages the company won. Critics have charged that this kind of relationship between law firm and government is improper because the law firms stand to benefit from a guilty verdict.[11]

2008 Presidential race: Endorsement of Barack Obama[edit]

Lynch was the second of the only two superdelegates in Rhode Island to publicly endorse Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary on February 9, 2008. The first being Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy on January 28, 2008.[12] Ultimately, Barack Obama lost the Rhode Island Democratic primary on March 4, 2008 to Hillary Clinton.

Gubernatorial campaign[edit]

On May 22, 2009, Lynch announced his candidacy for Governor of Rhode Island in the 2010 gubernatorial election.[13]

On August 6, 2009, Lynch was warned by the State Board of Elections that he needed to more carefully disclose his campaign spending. At issue was some $9,000 in petty cash transactions that were not properly documented. The State Board of Elections did not fine Lynch whose campaign filed corrected paperwork amidst being confronted with the issue. The complaint was filed by the Rhode Island Republican Party.[14]

On July 15, 2010, Lynch announced his exit from the Governors race, and endorsed fellow Democrat Frank Caprio. In his statement, Lynch said: "I did not enter public service to become a footnote in history by injuring my party, resulting in the election of a governor who is not equipped to guide our wonderful State into the future it deserves."[15]

Current Activities[edit]

Since leaving his post as attorney general, he has been accused of lobbying his former office several times on behalf of topics such as online gambling and Google Search engine practices via his firm the Patrick Lynch Group. Whilst he has never registered with the state as a lobbyist, he denies that his communications with the office of current Attorney General constitute lobbying.[16]

Additionally, he is a member of a law and consulting firm, Patrick Lynch Law[17]

Election history[edit]

2006 General Election

Candidate Votes %
Patrick C. Lynch (D) 217,324 59.51%
J. William W. Harsch (R) 147,489 40.49%
Patrick C. Lynch (D) reelected Attorney General.

2002 General Election

Candidate Votes %
Patrick C. Lynch (D) 191,488
J. William W. Harsch (R) 119,117
Patrick C. Lynch (D) elected Attorney General.


  1. ^ Project Vote Smart, "Patrick C. Lynch (RI)" Archived 2006-10-23 at the Wayback Machine (accessed July 19, 2006)
  2. ^ National District Attorneys Association, "In Profile: Patrick C. Lynch", May/June 2005 (accessed July 20, 2006).
  3. ^ NDAA-APRI Profile
  4. ^ Liz Anderson, "Lawyer to announce he's GOP candidate for attorney general", The Providence Journal, June 11, 2002.
  5. ^ Rhode Island Board of Elections, "Results for Attorney General by Community" Archived 2006-09-24 at the Wayback Machine November 5, 2002 (accessed July 21, 2006).
  6. ^ State of Rhode Island Department of the Attorney General, "Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch" Archived 2006-08-21 at the Wayback Machine (accessed July 29, 2006).
  7. ^ Edward Fitzpatrick, "Wisdom of Spider-Man to cling outside AG office", The Providence Journal, March 31, 2004.
  8. ^ Paul Edward Parker, "State issues 257 subpoenas for trial of Michael Derderian", The Providence Journal, July 18, 2006.
  9. ^ Raja Mishra, "Rhode Island wins lead paint suit", The Boston Globe, February 23, 2006.
  10. ^ Scott Mayerowitz, "Lynch accepted campaign donations from lead defendant", The Providence Journal, June 30, 2006.
  11. ^ Peter B. Lord, "State's deal with law firm in paint case challenged", The Providence Journal, April 4, 2006.
  12. ^ Peoples, Steve (February 10, 2008). "Atty. Gen. Patrick Lynch endorses Senator Obama". Providence Journal. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
  13. ^ Dujardin, Richard C. (May 23, 2009). "Attorney General Patrick Lynch plans to run for governor in 2010". The Providence Journal.
  14. ^ Associated Press (August 6, 2009). "Patrick Lynch warned about campaign fundraising". WJAR. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013.
  15. ^ Lynch announces his exit from governor's race Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Associated Press (17 November 2014). "Ex-attorney general lobbied but never registered". Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  17. ^ Mulvaney, Katie (29 October 2014). "Ex-Attorney General Patrick Lynch a focus of New York Times story on lobbying". Retrieved 11 April 2015.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Sheldon Whitehouse
Attorney General of Rhode Island
Succeeded by
Peter Kilmartin