Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

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Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Robert Kennedy Jr. 2 crop.jpg
Kennedy in October 2007
Born Robert Francis Kennedy, Jr.
(1954-01-17) January 17, 1954 (age 60)
Washington, D.C., United States
Nationality American
Education Harvard College (B.A.)
University of Virginia (J.D.)
Pace University (LL.M.)
Occupation Radio Host, Attorney, Environmental Activist
Political party
Democratic
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Emily Ruth Black
(1982–1994)
Mary Kathleen Richardson
(1994–2012)
Cheryl Hines (2014–present)
Children
  • Robert Francis Kennedy III
  • Kathleen Alexandra Kennedy
  • Conor Richard Kennedy
  • Kyra LeMoyne Kennedy
  • William Finbar Kennedy
  • Aiden Caohman Vieques Kennedy
Parents Robert Francis Kennedy, Sr.
Ethel Skakel

Robert Francis Kennedy, Jr., (born January 17, 1954) is an American radio host, activist, and attorney specializing in environmental law. He is the son of Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy, Sr., the former United States Senator for New York and the 64th U.S. Attorney General, and the nephew of former President John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy. He currently co-hosts Ring of Fire, a nationally syndicated American radio program.

Early life[edit]

Kennedy is the third of eleven children born to Senator Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy, Sr., and socialite Ethel Skakel as well as a paternal nephew of World War II casualty Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Jr., President John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, and longtime Senator Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy. Kennedy was close to 10 years old when his uncle Jack was shot while in the White House as President and he was 14 years old when his father was assassinated while running for President in the 1968 election. He spoke and read excerpts from his father's speeches at the mass commemorating his death at Arlington National Cemetery.[1][2] Following his father's death, Kennedy had difficulty coping and got in trouble at home and with the law, getting arrested for loitering and marijuana possession.[3] At fifteen, Kennedy was expelled from Millbrook School because of his behavior and poor grades.[4]

After obtaining his high school diploma from Pomfret School, Kennedy continued his studies at Harvard University and the London School of Economics, graduating from Harvard College in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts in American History and Literature. He then obtained a J.D. from the University of Virginia and a Master of Laws degree from Pace University.[5]

Personal life[edit]

In 1983, Kennedy was arrested in a Rapid City, South Dakota airport for heroin possession. A search of his carry-on bag uncovered 182 milligrams of the drug.[6] Upon entering a plea of guilty, Kennedy, then 29 years old, was sentenced to two years probation, periodic tests for drug use, treatment by joining Narcotics Anonymous, and 1,500 hours of community service by Presiding Judge Marshall P. Young.[6] In 1984, Kennedy's brother David, who had himself struggled with a dependence to heroin for years, died of an overdose of cocaine and prescription medication.[7]

Kennedy married Emily Ruth Black (born October 15, 1957)[8] on April 3, 1982, daughter of Thomas Black and Helen Armstrong.[9] Robert Jr. and Emily had two children:

  • Robert Francis Kennedy III (born September 2, 1984)
  • Kathleen Alexandra Kennedy (born April 13, 1988)

The couple divorced on March 25, 1994.[10]

Three weeks after divorcing Emily, Robert Jr. wed Mary Kathleen Richardson (October 4, 1959 – May 16, 2012) [11] on April 15, 1994, aboard a research vessel along the Hudson River.[12][13]

They had four children:

  • Conor Richard Kennedy (born July 24, 1994)
  • Kyra LeMoyne Kennedy (born August 22, 1995)
  • William Finbar "Finn" Kennedy (born November 8, 1997)
  • Aiden Caohman Vieques Kennedy (born July 13, 2001)

Kennedy and his wife attended the funeral services of his uncle Ted Kennedy in August 2009.[14] On May 12, 2010, Robert Jr. filed for divorce from Mary; three days later she was charged with drunken driving.[15] On May 16, 2012, Mary was found dead in a building on the grounds of her Mount Kisco, New York, home; the death was ruled by the Westchester County medical examiner to be due to asphyxiation from hanging.[16][17][18]

In September 2013, The New York Post released excerpts from Kennedy's diary from 2001 in which Kennedy detailed multiple affairs,[19] and penned his opinions about public figures, notably writing that the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton “give me the creeps,” in a July 5 entry.[20] Kennedy said the paper had printed "...excerpts from a 13-year-old diary illegally stolen from me...”.[21]

Kennedy is a licensed master falconer and former president of the New York State Falconer's Association.[22] He is also an avid whitewater rafter and has led several rafting trips in Canada and Central America.[23][24] He appeared in the IMAX documentary film Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk, riding the length of the Grand Canyon with his daughter and with anthropologist Wade Davis.

Kennedy and actress, director Cheryl Hines announced their engagement in late April 2014, and were married on August 2, 2014, at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.[25]

Legal career[edit]

In 1983, Kennedy was hired by New York County District Attorney and longtime family friend Robert M. Morgenthau to be an office assistant.[26]

In 1984, Kennedy joined the Riverkeeper organization to satisfy the 1,500 hours community service to which he was sentenced. He worked with the group to sue alleged polluters of the Hudson River. After his 1,500 hours were complete, the group hired Kennedy as its chief attorney.[27] While at Riverkeeper, Kennedy hired William Wegner, a falconry friend who had pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges of smuggling bird eggs from Australia in contravention of the laws of Australia and the United States. Robert Boyle, NY Riverkeeper's founder and former president, fired Wegner but Kennedy re-hired him. Eight members of the Riverkeeper board walked out of the board meeting in protest and resigned from the board.[28] Riverkeeper was founded in 1966 by a group of fishermen and residents from New York.[29]

Kennedy also founded and is the current chairman of the umbrella organization Waterkeeper Alliance,[30] which connects and supports local waterkeeper groups. Today there are 191 waterkeeper programs worldwide operating under the trademarked "Riverkeeper", "Lakekeeper", "Baykeeper", or "Coastkeeper" names.[31]

Since 1987 Kennedy has served as a Clinical Professor of Environmental Law and co-director of the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic[32] at Pace University School of Law. The clinic allows second- and third-year law students to try cases against alleged Hudson River polluters. Kennedy also serves as a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council,[23] a non-profit organization based in New York which works to expand environmental laws and restrict land use.

Politics[edit]

Environmental activism[edit]

In 1998, Kennedy, Chris Bartle and John Hoving created a bottled-water company that donates all of its profits to Waterkeeper Alliance.[33] They named their Manhattan-based company Tear of the Clouds LLC., after the lake of the same name, the source of the Hudson River in the Adirondack Mountains.[34] Their product is bottled under the name Keeper Springs.[35]

In April 2001, Kennedy was arrested for trespassing at Camp Garcia, the United States Navy training facility on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Kennedy and others were protesting the use of a small section of the island for training. The trespassing incident forced the suspension of live-fire exercises for almost 3 hours. Despite the best efforts of his counsel, former Governor of New York Mario Cuomo, on July 18, 2001, Kennedy was sentenced to 30 days in jail by Judge Hector Laffitte.[36][37] In February 2013, while protesting the Keystone Pipeline, Kennedy was arrested for blocking a thoroughfare in front of the White House during a protest. Kennedy's son Conor was also arrested.[38]

In a December 16, 2005, editorial for the New York Times, Kennedy argued, "As an environmentalist, I support wind power, including wind power on the high seas. I am also involved in siting wind farms in appropriate landscapes, of which there are many. But I do believe that some places should be off limits to any sort of industrial development. I wouldn't build a wind farm in Yosemite National Park. Nor would I build one on Nantucket Sound, which is exactly what the company Energy Management is trying to do with its Cape Wind project."[39] This position angered some environmentalists.[40]

In 2005, Kennedy was criticized for hypocrisy because he receives royalty payments for participation in two family-owned oil drilling companies, and also for using private jets while lecturing about the perils of global warming.[41]

On July 7, 2007, Kennedy appeared in New Jersey at the Live Earth event. His speech challenged the public to question the implied position of the energy industry that economic and environmental policies are mutually exclusive. He referred to several media personalities (Glenn Beck, John Stossel, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh among them) as "flat-Earthers", and "traitors".[42] Kennedy's speech concludes with the statement "And I will see all of you on the barricades." He is a self-described pro-life supporter on the issue of abortion.[43] Kennedy also sits on the board of directors of the Food Allergy Initiative.[44]

In 2009, Kennedy collaborated on an article titled, "The Energy of Bobby Kennedy, Jr."[45] for the debut summer issue of Above magazine, an ecological magazine based in London.

In May 2010, Kennedy was named one of Time.com's "Heroes for the Planet" for his success in helping Riverkeeper to restore the Hudson River.[46]

In June 2011, Kennedy appeared at select screenings of The Last Mountain produced by Bill Haney, and co-written by Haney and Peter Rhodes. The film depicts a battle in Appalachia between a local community and a large fossil fuel company over coal exploration.

On October 3, 2013, Kennedy voiced his belief that weighing economic concerns against environmental protection is a "false choice" during a speech at the Franklin and Marshall College.[47]

Kennedy's early environmental work is featured in two films by director Les Guthman: The Hudson Riverkeepers[48] and The Waterkeepers.[49]

Views on autism and vaccines[edit]

Kennedy is an outspoken opponent of the inclusion of the mercury-based preservative thimerosal in vaccines. In June 2005, Kennedy authored an article in Rolling Stone and Salon.com alleging a government conspiracy to cover up connections between the vaccine preservative thimerosal and childhood autism.[50] The article contained a number of factual errors, leading Salon.com to issue five corrections and ultimately to retract the article completely on January 16, 2011. The retraction was motivated by accumulating evidence of errors and scientific fraud underlying the vaccine-autism claim.[51] Previous to this retraction, sometime in 2010, Rolling Stone had also deleted Kennedy's article from their archives without explanation.[52][53] As of January 2011, the original, uncorrected, version of the article was still posted on Kennedy’s website, including his factual errors which Salon had corrected.[53]

Views on 2004 and 2008 Presidential elections[edit]

Kennedy during a 2007 speech in Urbana, Illinois

Kennedy endorsed John Kerry in the 2004 American presidential election, noting his strong environmental record, while also criticizing George W. Bush.[54] In an article in the June 5, 2006, issue of Rolling Stone titled "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?",[55] Kennedy comes to the conclusion that the Republican Party stole the 2004 American presidential election. Farhad Manjoo, Technology staff writer for Slate.com, has criticized Kennedy's interpretation and methodology.[56] Kennedy responded to Manjoo's criticisms in detail.[57]

In late 2007, Robert Jr.[58] and his sisters Kerry and Kathleen[59] announced that they would be endorsing Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In response to subsequent endorsements by Caroline Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, and Patrick J. Kennedy for Barack Obama, Robert Jr., Kerry, and Kathleen wrote in a January 29, 2008, editorial:

"By now you may have read or heard that our cousin, Caroline Kennedy, and our uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, have come out in favor of Sen. Barack Obama. We, however, are supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton because we believe that she is the strongest candidate for our party and our country."[60]

Kennedy was also featured in an ad campaign for Clinton alongside the grandson of Cesar Chavez.[61] In October 2008, on the Etown radio program where he received their E-chievement Award and was interviewed, he cited the need to elect Barack Obama.[62]

Views on JFK assassination and the Warren Commission[edit]

On the evening of January 11, 2013, Charlie Rose interviewed Robert Kennedy Jr. and his sister Rory in Dallas at the Winspear Opera House. This was part of Mayor Mike Rawlings hand chosen committee’s year long program of celebrating the life and presidency of John F. Kennedy. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said that he was convinced that a lone gunman was not solely responsible for the assassination of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy; and said his father believed the Warren Commission report was a "shoddy piece of craftsmanship."[63][64][65][66][67]

Political aspirations[edit]

Kennedy first considered running for political office in 2000 when he considered running for United States Senator in New York.[68] After deciding not to run in that election, he again considered running in 2005 for Attorney General. With the possibility of a matchup against his then brother-in-law Andrew Cuomo generating media interest, Kennedy again decided not to run, despite being considered the frontrunner if he ran.[69]

In a January 2007 interview in O: The Oprah Magazine, Kennedy said he would consider running for the potentially open seat of then-United States Senator Hillary Clinton of New York if she were to win the 2008 Presidential election.[70] RFK Jr.'s father was elected to that seat in 1964 and held it for more than three years. Clinton did not win the election, but was then tapped for Secretary of State, and Kennedy announced on December 2, 2008, that he did not want to be appointed to the U.S. Senate, feeling it would take too much time away from his family.[71]

Media work[edit]

Kennedy co-hosts Ring of Fire which was previously on Air America Radio with Mike Papantonio,[72] even though Papantonio suffers from spasmodic dysphonia,[73] a disorder that makes speech difficult and causes the voice to sound quavery. "Ring of Fire" is now independently syndicated.

Kennedy has written two books and several articles on environmental issues. His articles have appeared in works such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Nation, Outside magazine, and The Village Voice.

Books[edit]

Political books

Children's books

References[edit]

  1. ^ Storrin, Matt (June 7, 1969). "Folk Mass Honors RFK". Boston Globe. 
  2. ^ "Robert Kennedy's Words Sung In Mass Marking Assassination". The New York Times. June 7, 1970. 
  3. ^ "Robert Kennedy, 17, Fined for Loitering; Pleads No Contest". The New York Times. August 24, 1971. 
  4. ^ Oppenheimer, p. 498.
  5. ^ The Backbone Cabinet – A Progressive Cabinet Roster, backbonecampaign.org
  6. ^ a b "AROUND THE NATION; Kennedy Son GivenProbation in Drug Case". The New York Times. March 17, 1984. 
  7. ^ Stuart, Reginald (May 17, 1984). 04, 2009 "3 Drugs are Blamed in David Kennedy Case". New York Times. Archived from the original on September 4, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  8. ^ American Experience | The Kennedys | Kennedy Family Tree, PBS
  9. ^ http://www.appletree.com/Emily_Ruth_Black_1
  10. ^ http://photography.a24media.com/index.php/photogallery/prominent-faces/139-robert-kennedy-junior-in-kenya
  11. ^ http://www.nndb.com/people/113/000348066/
  12. ^ Brozan, Nadine (April 20, 1994). "Chronicle". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Names & Faces – Romantic Voyage". The Daily Gazette. April 21, 1994. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Mary Kennedy: 'Green' designer, wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.". CNN. May 17, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Bobby Kennedy Jr. sues wife for divorce". The Journal News. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, Dead". ABC News. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  17. ^ Hall, Christine. "Police: Mary Kennedy Committed Suicide". The Bedford Daily Voice. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  18. ^ Button, Liz. "Hanging Confirmed as Cause of Kennedy's Death". The Bedford Daily Voice. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  19. ^ Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein 'RFK’s sex diary: His secret journal of affairs, New York PostSeptember 8, 2013 'http://nypost.com/2013/09/08/rfk-jr-s-sex-diary-of-adultery/
  20. ^ Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein,Diary bombshell: RFK’s secret slams against Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Gov. Cuomo.New York PostSeptember 9, 2013 http://nypost.com/2013/09/09/diary-bombshell-rfks-secret-slams-against-al-sharpton-jesse-jackson-and-gov-cuomo/
  21. ^ Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein 'RFK’s sex diary: His secret journal of affairs, New York PostSeptember 9, 2013 'http://nypost.com/2013/09/09/diary-bombshell-rfks-secret-slams-against-al-sharpton-jesse-jackson-and-gov-cuomo/
  22. ^ Robert F. Kennedy Jr, metroactive.com
  23. ^ a b Robert F. Kennedy Jr, robertfkennedyjr.com
  24. ^ Our President, Waterkeeper Alliance
  25. ^ "Robert Kennedy Jr. weds actress Cheryl Hines at Kennedy compound". CNN. August 4, 2014. 
  26. ^ About Robert F. Kennedy Jr, robertfkennedyjr.com
  27. ^ Official website, Riverkeeper.org
  28. ^ Worth, Robert (June 22, 2000). "Eight at Riverkeeper Resign over Kennedy's Hiring of a Rare-Egg Smuggler". The New York Times. 
  29. ^ Our Story, Riverkeeper.org
  30. ^ "Waterkeeper Alliance". Waterkeeper.org. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  31. ^ Mission, Waterkeeper Alliance
  32. ^ Staff, law.pace.edu
  33. ^ The Idea, keepersprings.com.
  34. ^ Charlie Rose, A conversation about the Hudson River pollution with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and John Cronin, charlierose.com.
  35. ^ Official website, Keeper Springs.
  36. ^ "Kennedy Gets Noted Defense, And 30 Days". The New York Times. July 7, 2001. 
  37. ^ "US Navy resumes Vieques war games". BBC News. August 2, 2001. 
  38. ^ http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2013/feb/13/rfk-jr-arrested-keystone-protest-white-house/
  39. ^ An Ill Wind Off Cape Cod, The New York Times, December 16, 2005.
  40. ^ The Wind and the Willful, grist.org, January 1, 2006.
  41. ^ Schweizer, Peter (25 October 2005). Do as I Say (Not as I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy. Doubleday. pp. 272 pages. ISBN 0-385-51349-6. 
  42. ^ RFK JR – Live Earth, YouTube.
  43. ^ Paulson, Michael (March 15, 2005). "A natural devotion". The Boston Globe. 
  44. ^ "FAI Leadership". at Food Allergy Initiative. 2008. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  45. ^ "The Energy of Bobby Kennedy, Jr.", Above magazine, Summer 2009.
  46. ^ Rosenblatt, Roger (July 19, 1999). "In Search of the Beauty And Mystery of Home". Time. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  47. ^ Cusick, Marie (October 3, 2013). "Robert F. Kennedy Jr. calls natural gas a “catastrophe”". StateImpact Pennsylvania. 
  48. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0472105/
  49. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0471968/
  50. ^ R. F. Kennedy, Jr. (June 20, 2005). "Deadly Immunity (corrected)". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 22, 2006. 
  51. ^ Kerry Lauerman (16 January 2011). "Correcting our record". Salon.com. Retrieved January 16, 2011. "At the time, we felt that correcting the piece—and keeping it on the site, in the spirit of transparency—was the best way to operate. But subsequent critics, including most recently, Seth Mnookin in his book "The Panic Virus," further eroded any faith we had in the story's value. We've grown to believe the best reader service is to delete the piece entirely..... But continued revelations of the flaws and even fraud tainting the science behind the connection make taking down the story the right thing to do."" 
  52. ^ Edwards, Jim (January 21, 2011). "Rolling Stone Retracts Autism Article, but Lots of Junk Journalism Remains". CBS BNET. 
  53. ^ a b Oransky, Ivan (January 16, 2011). "Salon retracts 2005 Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. piece on alleged autism-vaccine link". RetractionWatch. Retrieved October 27, 2011. 
  54. ^ Welch, Craig (October 29, 2003). "RFK Jr. blasts Bush, champions Kerry". The Seattle Times. 
  55. ^ Was the 2004 Election Stolen?, Rolling Stone.
  56. ^ Was the 2004 election stolen? No., Salon News, June 3, 2006.
  57. ^ Was the 2004 election stolen? RFK responds, Salon News, June 6, 2006.
  58. ^ Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. endorses Hillary Clinton, CNN, November 29, 2007.
  59. ^ Kennedy Family Split On Endorsements, CBS News, December 16, 2007.
  60. ^ Kathleen Hartington Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Mary Kerry Kennedy (29 January 2008). "Kennedys for Clinton". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 29, 2008. 
  61. ^ Beth Fouhy (2 February 2008). "Clinton Ads Feature Kennedy, Chavez Kin". Associated Press. Retrieved February 2, 2008. [dead link]
  62. ^ Show Number: 0841, Air Date: week of October 8, 2008, "Etown at the DNC Pt. II", ETown
  63. ^ http://bigstory.ap.org/article/rfk-children-speak-about-assassination-dallas-0
  64. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvCD5u-Ep_Y&feature=youtu.be
  65. ^ http://www.cbsnews.com/news/rfk-jr-dad-believed-warren-commission-shoddy/
  66. ^ http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/dallas/headlines/20130112-kennedys-make-rare-visit-to-dallas-question-lone-gunman-theory-in-jfk-assassination.ece
  67. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2261263/JFK-assassination-Robert-Kennedy-speaks-death-uncle.html
  68. ^ RFK Jr. ponders attorney general run
  69. ^ Robert Kennedy Won't Run for State Attorney General
  70. ^ Tony Allen-Mills (21 January 2007). "Kennedy Jr. eyes Hillary’s Senate seat". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved February 2, 2008. 
  71. ^ Robert F. Kennedy’s Son Not Interested in Senate Seat, The New York Times.
  72. ^ Ring of Fire, Air America Radio.
  73. ^ Leibovich, Mark (25 June 2006). "Another Kennedy Living Dangerously". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2007. 

External links[edit]