Patrick J. Kennedy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Patrick J. Kennedy
Kennedy in 2016
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Rhode Island's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2011
Preceded byRonald Machtley
Succeeded byDavid Cicilline
Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
In office
January 3, 1999 – January 3, 2001
LeaderDick Gephardt
Preceded byMartin Frost
Succeeded byNita Lowey
Member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives
from the 9th district
In office
January 1, 1989 – January 1, 1993
Preceded byJohn Skeffington
Succeeded byAnastasia P. Williams
Personal details
Patrick Joseph Kennedy II

(1967-07-14) July 14, 1967 (age 56)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 2011)
Parent(s)Ted Kennedy
Joan Bennett
RelativesSee Kennedy family
EducationProvidence College (BS)
WebsiteOfficial website

Patrick Joseph Kennedy II (born July 14, 1967) is an American retired politician and mental health advocate.[1] From 1995 to 2011, he served as a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Rhode Island's 1st congressional district, and was the first Generation X member of congress when he was elected in 1995.[2] He is a former member of the Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission and a co-founder of One Mind, a mental health nonprofit.

Born and raised in Boston, he is the youngest child and second son of the long-time Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, and is a nephew of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy and former U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Providence College. He was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 1989, becoming the youngest member of the Kennedy family to hold elected office. He was then elected to represent Rhode Island's 1st congressional district. He was re-elected, serving from January 3, 1995, to January 3, 2011 (the 104th to 111th Congresses). In the House, Kennedy served on the Armed Services and Natural Resources Committees before being appointed to the Appropriations Committee.

At the time of his father's death in late August 2009, Patrick was the last remaining member of the Kennedy family to serve in an elective office in Washington. After he chose not to seek re-election in 2010 and left office the following year, it was the first time that no member of the Kennedy family held elected office since 1947. The Kennedys' absence in politics was temporary, however, and following the next mid-term election, Joe Kennedy III would be elected to Congress and Caroline Kennedy would be appointed to an ambassadorship.

Early life and education[edit]

Patrick Kennedy with his father Ted Kennedy in 1985

Kennedy was born in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. He is the youngest of three children born to Senator Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (1932–2009) (brother of John F. Kennedy) and musician/socialite/former model Virginia Joan Kennedy, née Bennett (born 1936). His sister Kara (1960–2011) was a television and film producer, while his brother, Ted, Jr. (born 1961), is a lawyer and former member of the Connecticut State Senate. Patrick was named after his paternal great-grandfather, businessman and politician Patrick Joseph Kennedy (1858–1929).

Kennedy graduated in 1986 from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Providence College in 1991.[3]

Rhode Island House of Representatives[edit]

While a junior at Providence College, Kennedy defeated five-term incumbent John F. Skeffington, Jr., for the Democratic nomination in District 9.[4] In 1988, Kennedy became the youngest member of the Kennedy family to hold elected office, when he won election to the Rhode Island House of Representatives at age 21. He served two terms in the House representing District 9 in Providence. He chose not to run for a third term and was succeeded by Anastasia P. Williams.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Kennedy speaking at a rally for American Indian and tribal unity in front of the U.S. Capitol

In 1994, Kennedy was elected as a Democrat to represent Rhode Island's 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was re-elected seven times, serving from January 3, 1995, to January 3, 2011 (the 104th to 111th Congresses).

Kennedy was lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which passed on October 3, 2008.[5]

Kennedy authored and co-sponsored the Positive Aging Act, the Foundations for Learning Act, which established a grant program to improve mental and emotional health for school children through screening and early intervention, the National Neurotechnology Initiative Act, Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act; the COMBAT PTSD Act; the Nurse-Family Partnership Act, the Alzheimer's Treatment and Caregiver Support Act, and the Ready, Willing, and Able Act.[5]

Kennedy was among the founders of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus and the 21st Century Healthcare Caucus and served as vice chairman of the Native American Caucus. He also joined the Congressional Boating Caucus; the Caucus on Armenian Issues; the Caucus on Hellenic Issues; the Fire Services Caucus; the Human Rights Caucus; the Travel and Tourism Caucus; the National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus; the Portuguese American Caucus (co-chair); and the Older American Caucus. He was a founder of the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse and chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for two years (1999-2001). During his tenure as DCCC chairman, Kennedy became a headliner at Democratic political events and fundraisers around the country.

Committee assignments[edit]

Political campaigns[edit]

Kennedy campaigned for the seat being vacated by U.S. Representative Ronald Machtley (who was retiring) in the 1994 Rhode Island 1st congressional district election. He won the election, defeating Republican candidate Kevin Vigilante. Kennedy was one of four Democrats in the 1994 congressional elections to win a congressional seat that had previously been held by a Republican, while Republicans gained dozens of seats to take over the U.S. House. He was re-elected every two years from 1996 until 2008 and did not run for re-election in 2010.

In 2000, Kennedy considered running against Republican Lincoln Chafee in the U.S. Senate election in Rhode Island, but instead chose to run for re-election. Kennedy had recently won appointment to the House Appropriations Committee, a high-profile assignment that caused him to pass up the Senate race. He again considered running against Chafee in 2006, but instead chose to run for re-election.

Kennedy did not run for re-election in 2010 and completed his final term in January 2011.[6] He finished his 8th term at the completion of the 111th United States Congress.

Post-congress advocacy[edit]

Kennedy in 2015

Since leaving Congress, Kennedy has written and spoken publicly about his long struggle with bipolar disorder and drug addiction[7] and become a leading advocate for a stronger mental health care system in the United States.[8]

Partnering with Shari and Garen Staglin in 2011, Kennedy launched One Mind (formerly One Mind for Research) with the intention of promoting the study of brain diseases. One Mind supports better diagnostics and new therapies to advance neuroscience discovery and fills the gaps in research funding by disseminating donor-supported funds.[9]

Kennedy founded The Kennedy Forum in 2013, a behavioral health nonprofit, of which he is CEO, with the mission of leading the national dialogue on transforming mental health and addiction care delivery by uniting mental health advocates, business leaders, and government agencies around a common set of principles, including full implementation of the Federal Parity Law.[10] In 2018, Politico termed Kennedy "the unlikely go-to player for companies seeking to benefit from the Trump administration’s multibillion-dollar response to the opioid crisis". Kennedy sits on the boards of eight corporations involved with the government's response to the drug crisis. He "holds an equity stake in the firms" and "collects director fees" from the latter organizations, many of which "stand to benefit from fresh efforts in Congress and the Trump administration to combat the opioid crisis". As such, Kennedy lobbied "former congressional colleagues to advocate for higher levels of spending".[11]

In 2015, he co-authored A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction detailing his journey through mental illness, addiction, and his ongoing political advocacy for federal legislation in support of mental health and addiction health care.

In 2016, Kennedy founded Advocates for Opioid Recovery[12] together with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Van Jones, a former domestic policy adviser to President Barack Obama.[13]

He is also co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, established in 2013 with Kevin Sabet and David Frum, an anti-legalization group. Speaking in the context of California's Proposition 64, Kennedy argued the legalization movement was "putting our children at risk" and "exposed children from communities of color to more racial discrimination than before."[14]

Political positions[edit]


Kennedy is a vocal advocate for health care reform. During his tenure in Congress, he joined with U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R–NM) in introducing legislation that places mental illness under the umbrella of health insurance.

He was a chief sponsor of one of the major pieces of legislation of 2008, the Mental Health Parity Act, a bill requiring most group health plans to provide coverage for the treatment of mental illnesses which is no less restrictive than coverage provided for physical illnesses.[15]

He was a strong proponent of adding a comprehensive prescription-drug benefit to the U.S. Medicare and consistently opposed attempts to privatize the Medicare program. Kennedy also made numerous speeches advocating the re-orientation of the U.S. health-care system to preventive care. He has received numerous awards for his health care advocacy, including the Lymphoma Research Foundation's Paul E. Tsongas Memorial Award as well as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Congressional Honors Award.[citation needed] He also received the Society for Neuroscience — Public Service Award (2002), Eli Lilly and Company 2003 Helping Move Lives Forward Reintegration Award, American Psychoanalytic Association 2003 President's Award, American Psychiatric Association Alliance award (2003), and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance — Paul Wellstone Mental Health Award (2003).

He has also been awarded the National Recovery Champion Award, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Humanitarian Award, the American Psychiatric Association Patient Advocacy Award, the New York Academy of Science Breaking the Chains of Stigma Award, the Society for Neuroscience Public Service Award, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Distinguished Service Award, the Clifford Beers Foundation Centennial Award, the Autism Society of America Congressional Leadership Award, the Epilepsy Foundation Public Service Award, and the NAMI Humanitarian of the Year Award.[5]

In a March 7, 2008, speech to the Cleveland City Club, Kennedy acknowledged having bipolar disorder and being a recovering alcoholic. He and his siblings have legal custody of their mother, who has long struggled with alcoholism.

Kennedy served on the Office of National Drug Control Policy's President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis in 2017.[16]

Iraq War[edit]

Kennedy was on the opposite side of the Iraq war debate as his father. He joined with 80 House Democrats in voting for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (the minority view among House Democrats), whereas his father in the Senate joined anti-war Democrats in voting against the bill, which was a minority position among Senate Democrats.[17][18]

2008 presidential election[edit]

On January 28, 2008, Kennedy joined his father in endorsing Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, stating that Obama was the "perfect antidote to George Bush".[19] Prior to that, Kennedy had joined his first cousin Timothy Shriver in endorsing U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd from Connecticut.

Personal issues and incidents[edit]

Use of alcohol and other drugs[edit]

Kennedy has acknowledged being treated for cocaine use during his teenage years, and admitted that he abused alcohol and other drugs while he was a student at Providence College.[20] He sought treatment for an OxyContin addiction in 2006.[21] Due to his experience with addiction, Kennedy advocates against the legalization of recreational marijuana, but supports it for medical use.[22][23]

Capitol Hill intoxicated-driving accident[edit]

On May 4, 2006, Kennedy crashed his automobile into a barricade on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., at 2:45 a.m. A United States Capitol Police official said the congressman had appeared intoxicated when he crashed his car. According to Kennedy, he was disoriented from the prescription medications Ambien and Phenergan.[dead link][24] Anonymous sources are alleged to have seen Kennedy drinking at the nearby Hawk & Dove bar prior to the accident.[25][26] Kennedy also stated to officers that he was "late for a vote". However, the last vote of the night had occurred almost six hours earlier. The standard field sobriety test was not administered, and Kennedy was driven home by an officer.

On May 5, 2006, Kennedy admitted publicly that he had an addiction to prescription medication and announced he would be readmitting himself to a drug-rehabilitation facility at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where he had sought treatment for prior addictions.[27] He has stated that he has no recollection of the car crash. On May 8, 2006, Kennedy got a show of support when he was endorsed by the Rhode Island Democratic Party.[28] On June 5, 2006, Kennedy was released from drug rehabilitation.[29]

On June 13, 2006, Kennedy made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of prescription drugs.[30] He was sentenced to one-year probation and a fine of $350. Two of the three charges (reckless driving and failure to exhibit a driving permit) were dismissed. He was also ordered to attend a rehabilitation program that includes weekly urine tests, twice-weekly meetings with a probation officer, near-daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and a weekly meeting of recovering addicts.[31]

On June 12, 2009, Kennedy announced that he had again entered rehab, for an indefinite time at an undisclosed facility.[32] In a statement to the press, Kennedy said that his recovery is a "life-long process" and that he would do whatever it takes to preserve his health: "I have decided to temporarily step away from my normal routine to ensure that I am being as vigilant as possible in my recovery", Kennedy said.[32]

As of 2018, Kennedy says that he has been sober for more than six years.[33]

Personal life and family[edit]

His father, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, died on August 25, 2009. Patrick made a tearful eulogy at the funeral, saying that, "He [Ted] would be very proud to see you all out here today paying a final respect and tribute to his memory". He further elaborated on his experiences with his father as a child, saying his father would stay at his bedside during his frequent bouts of ill health.[34][35]

When Kennedy decided not to run for re-election in 2010, he stated this was because his life "has taken a new direction". Mark Weiner, a major Democratic party fund-raiser in Rhode Island and one of Kennedy's top financial backers, said: "It's tough to get up and go to work every day when your partner is not there. I think he just had a broken heart after his father passed away."[36]

Kennedy now resides in Brigantine, New Jersey. In March 2011, he announced his engagement to eighth-grade history teacher Amy Savell.[37][38] The couple married on July 15, 2011, in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.[39] They have two sons and two daughters:

  • Owen Patrick Kennedy (born April 15, 2012)[40]
  • Nora Kara Kennedy (born November 19, 2013)[41]
  • Nell Elizabeth Kennedy (born November 29, 2015)[42]
  • Marshall Patrick Kennedy (born May 27, 2018)[43]

In January 2020, Amy Kennedy announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for United States Congress, to represent New Jersey's 2nd congressional district.[44] Amy Kennedy defeated Brigid Callahan Harrison in the Democratic primary in July, and faced Democrat-turned-Republican incumbent Jeff Van Drew in the November general election.[45] She was ultimately defeated by Van Drew.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Politics, Matthew Jaffe, University of Chicago Institute of (2016-05-02). "Patrick Kennedy opens up about addiction". CNN. Retrieved 2016-07-09.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Bump, Philip (2021-11-26). "When each generation arrived on Capitol Hill". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2023-11-18.
  3. ^ Staff writer (n.d.). "Kennedy, Patrick Joseph, (1967–)". (a database module of, a part of the U.S. Library of Congress website). Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  4. ^ "Campaign '88 : Patrick Kennedy Wins". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. 1988-09-15. Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  5. ^ a b c "Patrick J. Kennedy | Patrick J Kennedy". Patrick J Kennedy. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  6. ^ "Rep. Patrick Kennedy: 'Won't Seek Reelection'". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  7. ^ Schulzke, Eric (2013-02-17). "Bipolar and addicted, Patrick Kennedy embodies mental health challenges". Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  8. ^ "Patrick J Kennedy | The Official Website of Patrick J Kennedy". Patrick J Kennedy. Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  9. ^ "Home Page - One Mind". One Mind. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  10. ^ "Our Vision | The Kennedy Forum". The Kennedy Forum. Archived from the original on 2018-04-12. Retrieved 2018-05-19.
  11. ^ Cancryn, Adam (2018-04-17). "Patrick Kennedy profits from opioid-addiction firms". Politico. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  12. ^ "Mission". Advocates for Opioid Recovery. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  13. ^ "As he chairs Trump's opioid commission, Christie champions his home-state drug companies". USA Today. October 19, 2017.
  14. ^ McGreevy, Patrick (August 2016). "Kennedy group puts $2 million into fight against pot-legalization measures". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  15. ^ Rucker, Philip (2010-03-12). "Patrick Kennedy discusses leaving Congress after 16 years". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ "President's Commission on Opioids". Archived from the original on 2021-01-20. Retrieved 2020-12-16 – via National Archives.
  17. ^ "H.J.Res. 114 (107th): Authorization for Use of Military Force Against ... -- House Vote #455 -- Oct 10, 2002".
  18. ^ "H.J.Res. 114 (107th): Authorization for Use of Military Force Against ... -- Senate Vote #237 -- Oct 11, 2002".
  19. ^ Staff writer (2008-01-28). "Patrick Kennedy to Join Father in Endorsing Obama for President". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2009-08-21. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  20. ^ "Approval Ratings Fall for Rhode Island Rep. Kennedy". Fox News. 2001-04-19. Archived from the original on 2009-08-30. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  21. ^ "Rep. Kennedy: I Was Hooked on OxyContin". Fox News. Associated Press. 2007-03-16. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  22. ^ Johnson, Kirk (2014-01-27). "Cannabis Legal, Localities Begin to Just Say No". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  23. ^ "Patrick Kennedy discusses equal insurance rights for the mentally ill and his anti-marijuana lobbying group, Project SAM". The Colbert Report. Comedy Central. 2014-02-10. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  24. ^ [dead link]Miga, Andrew (2006-05-05). "Police Report Filed in Kennedy Car Crash". Associated Press.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ [dead link]Wedge, Dave (2006-05-05). "Pat cites pills in car wreck". Boston Herald. Archived from the original on 2006-05-07.
  26. ^ [dead link]Wedge, Dave (2006-05-12). "Cops Told Pat K Was at Watering Hole Before Crash". Boston Herald. Archived from the original on 2006-05-20.
  27. ^ Miga, Andrew (2006-05-06). "Rep. Patrick Kennedy to Enter Drug Rehab". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  28. ^ Mayerowitz, Scott (2006-05-09). "Kennedy Gets Support from Democratic Party — The U.S. Representative, Who Entered Drug Rehabilitation Treatment in Minnesota Last Week, Is Among Those Endorsed by R.I. Democrats at Their Convention". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  29. ^ [dead link]Lewis, Richard (2006-06-05). "Rep. Kennedy Released from Drug Rehab Clinic". Reuters.
  30. ^ Miga, Andrew (2006-06-13). "Kennedy sentenced after guilty plea to DUI". AP. Archived from the original on 2006-06-16. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  31. ^ Akers, Mary Ann (2006-07-13). "Life After Fender Bender". Roll Call. Archived from the original on 2009-08-21. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  32. ^ a b Swami, Prerana (2009-06-12). "Patrick Kennedy Again Enters Rehab". CBS News. Archived from the original on 2017-01-05.
  33. ^ "Patrick Kennedy Sees More Talk Than Action in Mental Health Coverage and Parity". Managed Care magazine. 2018-01-01. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  34. ^ "As Kennedy laid to rest, a papal prayer request is revealed –". CNN. 2009-08-30. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
  35. ^ "Broadcast Yourself". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-08-29.[dead YouTube link]
  36. ^ "Patrick Kennedy won't seek re-election". Washington Times. 2010-02-11. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  37. ^ "Local Football Tradition Now Has a Kennedy Connection". Galloway, NJ Patch. 2012-01-02. Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  38. ^ "Patrick Kennedy and Jersey Girl | Home". Archived from the original on 2013-07-03. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
  39. ^ Williams, Eric (2011-07-16). "Patrick's day!". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2022-12-06.
  40. ^ Drake, Danny (2012-04-17). "Patrick Kennedy, wife bring baby Owen home from N. J. hospital". The Providence Journal.
  41. ^ "It's a girl for Patrick and Amy Kennedy". The Providence Journal. 2013-11-19.
  42. ^ "Ex-US Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Wife Welcome New Baby Girl". The Associated Press. 2015-11-29. Retrieved 2015-11-29.
  43. ^ "Ex-US Rep. Patrick Kennedy, wife, Amy, welcome another child". Hosted. 2018-05-29. Retrieved 2018-05-31.[permanent dead link]
  44. ^ Brunetti, Michelle (2020-01-06). "Amy Kennedy joins race to replace Jeff Van Drew". The Press of Atlantic City. Retrieved 2020-06-28.
  45. ^ Kane, Paul (2020-07-07). "Amy Kennedy wins N. J. Democratic primary, will face party defector turned Trump loyalist". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  46. ^ "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 2017-08-01.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Rhode Island's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Baby of the House
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative