As verdicts in the trial of Rittenhouse Capital Partners CEO Stuart Rittenhouse Jr. reverberated across the nation, some of the early recipients of his verdict were the outspoken small business owners who rode into town to explain what happens when a company billionaire keeps his pledge to back a female candidate over a competent, experienced male candidate.
“He promised to donate $1 million to the Women’s March, and that’s a promise,” said One Arkansas Bakery owner Sandy Marks. “That’s why he’s getting a … punishment because he had backed a women who was not qualified for that job, to put it in perspective.”
Marks was joined by a handful of others in a column on the city council’s official website, decrying the billionaire’s “lack of accountability” for his actions.
“We are thankful he isn’t going to spend jail time, because we need our protections in a capitalist society to work,” the group wrote. “But as small business owners, we cannot let ‘rich people get away with this’ — Martin Luther King’s words, not mine.”
Rittenhouse’s conviction of criminal conspiracy and insider trading came a little more than three years after Mayor John Street of Philadelphia pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud and ordered to pay a $350,000 fine.
Last week, the jury in Rittenhouse’s case cleared him of three other counts that included insider trading and money laundering, but returned guilty verdicts on three of the 32 securities-related charges. The jury found Rittenhouse guilty on 18 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and attempted securities fraud. It also found him guilty of 15 counts of bid-rigging.
The verdict was a clear victory for the defense lawyers, and reflected, at least to some degree, Judge Ernest Androzzi’s decision to raise the amount of money needed to prove a conspiracy charge. Earlier this month, Androzzi also increased a witness’s testimony before ruling that Rittenhouse failed to keep his part of a promise to chip in for the protesters’ rally.
Rittenhouse was accused of offering to donate $250,000 to the Women’s March on Washington in the weeks after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. That amount made him one of the largest individual donors to the group.
Rittenhouse argued that he had run a case by the Women’s March board and then met with a companion group of female business owners — the anti-sexual harassment group Women Who Run.
However, he failed to get the board to back him up and was ultimately told to keep the donation.
Before the verdict, the defense argued that Rittenhouse had been a victim of an extortion attempt, as the same woman who was responsible for the sting that resulted in his arrest also happened to be involved in an investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia.
On Monday night, NBC News reports, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania sent a letter to Rittenhouse and his attorneys giving them until Wednesday to prove that he wasn’t involved in the conspiracy.
Rittenhouse faces a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years, but has opted to keep his job.