Joseph Patrick Kennedy II: Wikis


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Joseph Patrick Kennedy II

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 8th district
In office
January 3, 1987 — January 3, 1999
Preceded by Tip O'Neill
Succeeded by Mike Capuano

Born September 24, 1952 (1952-09-24) (age 57)
Brighton, a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Birth name Joseph Patrick Kennedy II
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sheila Brewster Rauch (1979–1991, divorced)
Anne Elizabeth "Beth" Kelly (since 1993)
Relations Parents

Robert Francis Kennedy, Sr. and Ethel (née Skakel) Kennedy

see also Kennedy family

Children Matthew Rauch Kennedy and Joseph Patrick Kennedy III (twins, born 1980)
Alma mater University of Massachusetts Boston (Bachelor of Arts)
Religion Roman Catholic

Joseph Patrick Kennedy II (born September 24, 1952) is an American businessman and Democratic politician.

He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 8th congressional district of Massachusetts from 1987 to 1999. In 1979 he had founded and led Citizens Energy Corporation, a non-profit energy company until election to the U.S. House; since 1999 he has continued to lead Citizens Energy.

Named after his uncle Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., he is the eldest son of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy and a member of the Kennedy family.


Early life and education

Kennedy was born in Brighton, a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, to Robert Francis Kennedy and Ethel (née Skakel) Kennedy, the second of their eleven children. He had a troubled youth, and was expelled from several private schools as a result of his quick temper. He regularly got into fights with his younger brothers and male cousins.[1] A restless, impulsive teenager, he left the Milton Academy, a private, college preparatory school, in Milton, Massachusetts, before graduating from the Manter Hall School — also a private, college-preparatory school — in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1971.[2][3]

Kennedy attended the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California, during 1972, but dropped out.[4] After this he worked for several months as part of a federally funded program to combat and treat tuberculosis in the African American community in San Francisco, California.[4] San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto personally praised Kennedy's work in the community.[4] Kennedy resigned from his position in the program, and returned to Massachusetts in the summer of 1973.[4]

In August 1973, a Jeep he was driving overturned, fracturing one of his brother David Kennedy's vertebrae, and permanently paralyzing David's girlfriend, Pam Kelley.[5] The police cited Kennedy with reckless driving and the judge temporarily suspended his driver's license.[1][5] The Kennedy family paid for Kelley’s initial medical treatment and her continued care during the years following the accident.[6]

Kennedy returned to school after the accident, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1976.[7]


In 1979, Kennedy founded Citizens Energy, a non-profit organization, to provide discounted heating oil to low-income families. (See Citizens Energy (since 1979) section below.)


U.S. House of Representatives (1986-1999)

In November 1986, Kennedy was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Massachusetts 8th congressional district. The Democratic nomination was contested by a number of well-known Democrats with long records of public service, among them veterans of the Massachusetts General Court — the Massachusetts legislature — including Thomas Gallagher, George Bachrach, and Mel King. However, Kennedy garnered endorsements from The Boston Globe and the retiring Democratic incumbent, Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, who had held the 8th Congressional district seat since 1953. (From 1947 to 1953, this seat had been held by Kennedy's uncle U.S. President John F. Kennedy.)

Kennedy's legislative efforts in U.S. House of Representatives included:[8]

  • Expanding the availability of credit to working Americans to buy homes and to open businesses.[9]
  • Requiring public disclosure of bank-lending practices in poorer neighborhoods and disclosure of bank home-mortgage approvals and refusals by race, sex, and income.[10] Subsequent Federal Reserve Board studies based on these newly required disclosures found widespread evidence of discriminatory-loan practices. One study found that white borrowers in the lowest-income category were approved for mortgages more than African American borrowers in the highest-income category. Data from Boston; Chicago, Illinois; and Minneapolis, Minnesota, found that African Americans were turned down at three times the rate of whites.[11]
  • Helping create hundreds of thousands of new affordable-housing units nationwide by introducing tax credits to stimulate private investment in neighborhood housing developments after federal housing assistance had been cut by seventy-five percent during the 1980s.[12]
  • Chairing the House Banking Subcommittee on Consumer Credit and Insurance and holding the first U.S. congressional hearings to expose the lack of access to insurance in low-income neighborhoods.[13]
  • Proposing a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution as a vehicle to end skyrocketing deficits, reduce interest rates, and free up investment capital for business growth rather than government bonds[14] while fighting to end corporate tax breaks and subsidies.[15]
  • Overhauling federal public-housing law for the first time in almost sixty years, giving local housing authorities the ability to raise standards while protecting those who depend on public housing for shelter.[16]
  • Co-chairing the U.S. Congressional Biotechnology Caucus and proposing to preserve and expand federal research and development accounts that stimulate the creation of new technologies and build the foundation for new jobs and business growth.[17]
  • Proposing the "Mom and Pop Protection Act" to help corner-store owners to install safety equipment[18] and a "National Stalker Reduction Act" to require all states to enact comprehensive anti-stalking legislation, track stalkers, and establish a national domestic-violence database to track violations of civil-protection orders.[19][20]
  • Protecting kids from alcohol by proposing to limit television advertising of beer and wine between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and to keep outdoor alcohol advertisements away from schools.[21]
  • Launching a bipartisan initiative in Massachusetts to fight child hunger which helped lead to an expansion of school breakfast and lunch programs.[22]

Throughout his career in the U.S. House, Kennedy served on the House Banking Committee, where he played an active role in the federal saving-and-loan bailout, credit-reporting reform, the overhaul of The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and financial modernization. Kennedy also served on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, passing legislation to strengthen the veterans' health-care system, to investigate the causes of Gulf War syndrome, and to provide medical treatment for veterans of the first Persian Gulf War.

In 1991, Kennedy boycotted a speech to the U.S. Congress by the United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II "in protest to the British occupation in northern Ireland".[23]

In March 1998, following a year of family troubles that included the skiing death of his brother Michael LeMoyne Kennedy, he announced that he planned to retire from the U.S. House, citing "a new recognition of our own vulnerabilities and the vagaries of life".[24] An editorial in The Boston Globe observed, "... Kennedy has remained steadfast in his political life to issues and constituencies no poll would have led him to: the poor, the homeless, disadvantaged children, and others swamped in the current tide of prosperity." He served in the U.S. House for six terms, until January 1999. In his final speech on the U.S. House floor, Kennedy delivered "an impassioned plea for unity and forgiveness"[25] in the midst of Congressional debate regarding the proposed articles of impeachment of President Bill Clinton.[26]

Citizens Energy (since 1979)

After leaving the U.S. House, Kennedy returned to Citizens Energy. (During Kennedy's terms in the U.S. House, it had been run by his brother Michael.) Citizens Energy pursues commercial ventures aimed at generating revenues that, in turn, are used to generate funds that could assist those in need in the U.S. and abroad.[27] It grew to encompass seven separate companies, including one of the largest energy-conservation firms in the U.S. Citizens Energy became one of the U.S.'s first energy firms to move large volumes of natural gas to more than thirty states.[28] As a precursor to market changes under electricity deregulation in the late 1990s, Citizens Energy was a pioneer in moving and marketing electrical power over the power grid.[29][30]

Citizens Energy has provided affordable heating oil to low-income families in the Northeastern U.S. since 1979. These charitable efforts were funded largely from profitable commercial ventures and donations.[31]

Since returning to Citizens Energy, Kennedy also has sought to influence energy-related public policy, challenging the Bush Administration to invest in energy conservation and efficiency and renewable energy[32], encouraging Congress to fully fund federal heating assistance programs[33], proposing that oil-consuming countries work together to balance oil prices against Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) manipulation[34], and calling for the federal government and major oil companies to use portions of royalties from oil and gas extracted from federal lands and waters to help low-income families with the high price of energy.[35] As of 2007, Kennedy's salary was $575,000 per year.[36] [37]

Citizens Energy and Venezuela

Beginning in 2005, Citgo Petroleum Company (Citgo), a wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) — the Venezuelan state-owned oil company — has been the primary donor of heating oil to Citizens Energy. The Wall Street Journal and others criticized Citizens Energy for continuing its relationship with the Venezuelan government and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a harsh critic of U.S. President George W. Bush.[38] In response, Kennedy and others[39][40] have argued that it is hypocritical to criticize a non-profit organization for accepting oil from Venezuela while numerous other American businesses are profiting from robust trade with Venezuela and at a time when the U.S. government has cut low-income fuel assistance.[41]

During the last two years, Citgo donated eighty-three million gallons of oil, which was used to provide heating assistance to an estimated 200,000 families a year in twenty-three states.[42]

Later political considerations

Considered candidacy for 2002 Massachusetts governor election

Kennedy considered running for the Massachusetts governorship in 2002 but, citing family difficulties, he did not.[43]

Possible candidacy for uncle's U.S. Senate seat

With the death of his uncle U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy on August 25, 2009, Kennedy's name has been mentioned as a possible candidate for his uncle's seat representing Massachusetts in the United States Senate. In an Associated Press article, Democratic strategist Dan Payne said, "He wouldn't be human and he wouldn't be a Kennedy if he didn't give serious consideration to running for what is known as the 'Kennedy seat' in Massachusetts."[44] The six-year term of the seat ends in January 2013. However, Kennedy released a statement on September 7 explaining that he would not pursue the seat.[45]

Personal life

On February 3, 1979, Kennedy and Sheila Brewster Rauch (born March 22, 1949)[46] were married in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. She is a daughter of Rudolph Stewart Rauch and Frances Stuart Brewster. (Both the Brewster and Rauch families were socially prominent with a tradition in coachbuilding; the Brewsters had owned Brewster & Co., an American coachbuilder.) The couple had twin sons, Matthew Rauch Kennedy and Joseph Patrick Kennedy III (born October 4, 1980, in Boston); and were divorced in 1991.

Two years later, Kennedy asked the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston for an annulment of the marriage on the grounds of "lack of due discretion of judgment", meaning that he was mentally incapable of entering into marriage at the time of his wedding. An annulment would give the marriage the status of never having existed, and allow Kennedy to marry Anne Elizabeth "Beth" Kelly — his former staff member — in a Roman Catholic ceremony, as well as allow him to participate in other sacraments of the church, such as Holy Communion, not available to a divorced person who remarries.[47][48] Rauch refused to agree to the annulment,[49] and Kennedy married Kelly (born April 3, 1957)[46] in a non-Catholic civil ceremony on October 23, 1993.

The Boston Archdiocese did grant Kennedy the annulment, a fact discovered by Rauch when it was granted in 1996.[47] Rauch, who is an Episcopalian, wrote a book Shattered Faith: A Woman's Struggle to Stop the Catholic Church from Annulling Her Marriage[49] explaining that she was opposed to the concept of annulment, because it meant in Roman Catholic theology that the marriage had never actually existed, and claiming that the Kennedy family influence made it possible to unilaterally "cancel" a twelve-year marriage. She appealed to the Vatican to overturn the annulment.[50]

The annulment was overturned by the highest appellate tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman Rota, in 2005. Rauch was informed of the decision by the Boston Archdiocese in 2007.[51] Because the Rota was sitting as a second-instance appellate court,[52] Kennedy could appeal the decision to another Rotal panel.[50][52]


  1. ^ a b Heymann, Clemens D. (2007). American Legacy: The Story of John and Caroline Kennedy. Simon & Schuster. p. 194. ISBN 0743497384. 
  2. ^ Osborne, David (April 1985). "Joe Kennedy Makes a Name for Himself". Mother Jones. p. 20.
  3. ^ De Los Reyes, Gaston (1993-11-13). "Manter School Endures". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  4. ^ a b c d Oppenheimer, Jerry. The Other Mrs. Kennedy. p. 578. St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1995.
  5. ^ a b Canellos, Peter S. Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy. p. 194. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009
  6. ^ Taraborrelli , J. Randy. Jackie, Ethel, Joan: Women of Camelot, p. 423. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2000
  7. ^ Walker, P. Wayne. 1997 Congressional Staff Directory (49th Edition), p. 111. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Books, June 1997
  8. ^ Joseph P. Kennedy II corporate biography
  9. ^ Dober, Patrick; Callahan, Tom (1998-11-08). "Joe Kennedy's Home Run Against Bias". The Boston Globe.
  10. ^ Turner, Robert L. (1989-07-02). "Joe Kennedy: the Happy Warrior". The Boston Globe. p. A45.
  11. ^ Harrington, Walt (1993-06-06). "Settling In". The Washington Post (magazine section). p. 32.
  12. ^ Op-ed essay. Flynn, Raymond L.; Kennedy II, Joseph P. (1988-01-25). "Decent, Affordable Housing for All". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Kurkjian, Stephen (1995-10-13), "U.S. Urged to Probe Business Insurers". The Boston Globe.
  14. ^ Keller, Jon (1995-02-05). "Joe Kennedy's Clear-Eyed View of How Things Are". The Boston Globe. p. 3.
  15. ^ Kennedy II, Joseph P. (1995-12-27). "Corporations Rake in Subsidies as Poor, Aged Suffer Cuts". The Boston Globe.
  16. ^ Pear, Robert (1998-05-10). "House Votes to Overhaul Housing for the Poor". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Kennedy II, Joseph P. (1998-02-02). "R&D, Engine of Our Growth". Boston Herald.
  18. ^ Black, Chris (1995-11-25). "Rep. Kennedy Acts to Protect Small Shops". The Boston Globe.
  19. ^ Sullivan, Paul (1993-01-30). "Kennedy Targets Stalking in New Bill". Boston Herald.
  20. ^ Kennedy II, Joseph P. (1993-04-25). "It's Time to Give the Courts Legal Tools to Put Stalkers Away". Boston Herald.
  21. ^ "Rep. Kennedy Takes on Beer Ads". The Boston Globe. (May 17, 1996); "Celebrating Sobriety". The Boston Globe. (July 3, 1996).
  22. ^ Kennedy II, Joseph P. (1998-02-08). "Growing Up Hungry in a Time of Plenty". The Boston Globe. pp. C1-C2.
  23. ^ De Witt, Karen (1991-05-17). "Queen's Address to Congress Celebrates Mutual Respect". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  24. ^ Goldberg, Carey (1998-03-14). "Joseph Kennedy 2d Will Quit Congress; Family Needs Cited". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  25. ^ Miga, Andrew (1998-12-19). "Joe K's Final Speech on the House Floor Is His Finest". Boston Herald.
  26. ^ Meehan, Marty (1999-01-10). "Joe K Leaves Legacy of Morality". Boston Herald. p. 27.
  27. ^ Katz, Marisa (2001-01-15). "Heat Is On, Thanks to Joe". The Providence Journal.
  28. ^Citizens Energy website, "Natural Gas: Our Experience"
  29. ^ Citizens Energy website, "Electricity Transmission: Our Experience"]
  30. ^ Sheingold,, Barry J. "Power Marketing for the People". Public Power (January-February 1990), pp. 24-29.
  31. ^ Chapman, Fern Schumer (1994-07-23). "Joe Kennedy, The Poor Man's Oil Tycoon". Fortune. pp. 98-101.
  32. ^ Kennedy II, Joseph P. (2001-05-15). "Taking Steps Towards Energy Independence". The Boston Globe.
  33. ^ Catell, Robert B.; Kennedy II, Joseph P. (2006-10-02). "Congress: Turn Up the Heat". Newsday.
  34. ^ Kennedy II, Joseph P. (2001-04-18). "Organized Oil-Consuming Countries Could Offset OPEC". USA Today. p. A13.
  35. ^ Kennedy II, Joseph P. (2005-09-26). "Sharing the Oil Price Windfall". The Boston Globe.
  36. ^ Johnson, Glenn (2009-09-07). "Former Rep. Joseph Kennedy Nixes Senate Campaign". The Washington Post.
  37. ^ [1] The New York Times. (website registration required)
  38. ^ Editorial (2006-11-28). Dial Joe-4-Chávez, The Wall Street Journal. Accessed 2009-08-27.
  39. ^ Editorial (2007-02-19). "Rhetoric Fails to Help Poor". The Daily News Tribune.
  40. ^ Walker, Adrian. (2005-11-24). "Oil Deal Is Her Lifeline". The Boston Globe.
  41. ^ Kennedy II, Joseph P. (2006-12-24). "Yes, Oil from Venezuela". Op-ed essay. The Boston Globe. Accessed 2009-08-27.
  42. ^ Rezendes, Michael; Bierman, Noah (2009-09-06). "As Joe Kennedy Considers Run, Chavez Ties Loom". The Boston Globe. p. 1.
  43. ^ Harden, Blaine (1997-08-29). "Joseph Kennedy Ends Gubernatorial Bid". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  44. ^ Another Senator Kennedy in Massachusetts?
  45. ^ "Former Rep. Joseph Kennedy Nixes Senate Campaign". The Associated Press. via The New York Times. 2009-09-07. Retrieved 2009-09-07.  (website registration required)
  46. ^ a b American Experience | The Kennedys | Kennedy Family Tree | PBS
  47. ^ a b Lawson, Carol (1997-04-24). "Seeking to Annul the Annulment". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  48. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  49. ^ a b Kennedy, Sheila Rauch (1998). Shattered Faith: A Woman's Struggle to Stop the Catholic Church from Annulling Her Marriage. Henry Holt and Company. pp. 7–22. ISBN 978-0805058284. 
  50. ^ a b Israel, Jeff (2007-06-19). "Joe Kennedy's First Marriage: Still On". Time.,8599,1634956,00.html. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  51. ^ Staff writer (2007-06-20). "Vatican Undoes Annulment of Ex-Rep. Kennedy — Eldest Son of Late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy Was Married in 1991"". The Associated Press via MSNBC. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  52. ^ a b "Code of Canon Law - Canon 1444". Retrieved 2009-09-03. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tip O'Neill
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Mike Capuano


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