The Rittenhouse trial becomes an avenue for political fundraising


As the jury deliberates in Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide trial, fundraising emails from his supporters and critics increasingly reflect how the case has become a political touchstone as well as a very busy legal process.

His supporters sent campaign-style fundraising emails, casting Mr Rittenhouse as a victim and soliciting contributions to a fund set up by his family to cover his legal costs. Meanwhile, at least one political action committee is using anger at Mr Rittenhouse to raise money for progressive candidates.

“The prosecution and my son Kyle’s defense team have completed their closing arguments and I am beyond nervous,” Mr Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, wrote in an appeal for funds launched on Tuesday.

“This corrupt persecution has been extremely difficult, and I am making an urgent request to you to ensure that it does not bury us,” she said in the email. “We’re already expecting legal fees of around $110,000 for November, but if we can find 2,500 people to donate over the next 48 hours, we should be fine.”

Another email soliciting donations for the fund was signed by David A. Clarke, former sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and former spokesman for a pro-Trump political action committee.

“What was done to this town last summer by a group of violent lunatics was an absolute disgrace,” the email said, referring to protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the shooting of Jacob Blake by the police. “Kyle was there that night, you better believe him. But instead of starting fires, he had a fire extinguisher trying to put them out. Instead of trying to hurt people, he had a medical kit that offered first aid to anyone who needed it.

The tone of the emails reflects how Mr Rittenhouse has become a hero to many on the right and how the outcome of the trial relates to national politics.

On the other side of the spectrum, the PAC Collective, a progressive group, sent an email Tuesday using the lawsuit to urge supporters to donate to Attorney General Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a Democrat who is running for the re-election.

“The truth is, violent white supremacists like Rittenhouse will continue to inflict senseless violence across the country if we don’t hold them accountable,” the email reads. “It starts with electing people who will actually fight for justice.”

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