Catching up on a story that made headlines last month: in June of last year when duPont settled the state of Rhode Island's lead paint lawsuit rather than go to trial (OL 7/2/05), it agreed to furnish $12.5 million to charity, including $9 million to an outfit called Children's Health Forum. On closer scrutiny, the Children's Health Forum turns out to have extensive ties to the giant chemical company; per the AP, "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." As for Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch, "The Associated Press reported in June that Lynch took campaign donations from people with ties to DuPont, including one from its chief negotiator while the deal was being discussed. Lynch says he did nothing wrong." Curiously, "Lynch and DuPont say the deal was not a legal settlement but simply an agreement." (Michelle R. Smith, "Nonprofit Set to Get $9M in DuPont Lead Paint Deal Has Close Ties to Company", AP/Law.com, Aug. 4).
Meanwhile, editorialists at the Wall Street Journal have suggested that an otherwise puzzling component of the charity pledge -- $2.5 million to Boston's Brigham & Women's Hospital -- might have been meant as a concealed boon for Motley Rice, the law firm which represented Rhode Island, and which had earlier pledged money to the hospital in association with its asbestos work ("Rhode Island Rhapsody" (editorial), Wall Street Journal, Aug. 16 (sub-only)). The editorial called forth a carefully worded letter from duPont which does not in fact contradict that theory (Aug. 23).
The Providence Journal (which it's nice to note is no longer behind a subscriber-only screen) covered the controversy here, and its deputy editorial page editor Edward Achorn penned a commentary on the Rhode Island Ethics Commission's decision not to open an investigation of AG Lynch. And Jane Genova covers the story here and here.