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This article is about the current member of the United States House of Representatives.
For other persons named Patrick Kennedy, see Patrick Kennedy (disambiguation).
Patrick J. Kennedy

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Rhode Island's 1st district
Assumed office 
January 3, 1995
Preceded by Ronald Machtley

Born July 14, 1967 (1967-07-14) (age 42)
Brighton, Massachusetts, United States
Birth name Patrick Joseph Kennedy II
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) none
Relations Parents:
Edward Moore Kennedy, Sr. and Virginia Joan (née Bennett) Kennedy
Kara Anne Kennedy (born 1960)
Edward Moore Kennedy, Jr. (born 1961)

also see Kennedy family
Residence Portsmouth, Rhode Island, United States
Alma mater Providence College (Bachelor of Science)
Occupation Politician
Religion Roman Catholic
Website (Kennedy's section at the U.S. House of Representatives official website), ("Patrick J. Kennedy for U.S. Congress"] campaign's official website)

Patrick Joseph Kennedy II (born July 14, 1967) is an American politician. He is currently a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Rhode Island's 1st congressional district since 1995. The district includes all of Bristol County and Newport County, and parts of Providence County. On February 11, 2010, Kennedy announced he would not seek re-election in 2010.

A member of the Kennedy family, he is a son of the late U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy from Massachusetts.


Early life and education

Kennedy was born in 1967 to Edward Moore Kennedy, Sr. (known as "Ted") and Virginia Joan Kennedy (née Bennett) in Brighton, Massachusetts, the third of three children, after Kara Anne Kennedy (born 1960) and Edward Moore Kennedy, Jr. (born 1961).

He graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts in 1986, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island in 1991.[1]


Rhode Island House of Representatives

Kennedy became the youngest member of the Kennedy family to hold elected office when, in 1988, he won election to the Rhode Island House of Representatives at age 21.

U.S. House of Representatives

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. He was one of four Democrats in the 1994 congressional elections to win a congressional seat that had just been held by a Republican, while Republicans gained dozens of seats to take over the U.S. House. He has been re-elected in each subsequent election.

He considered running against Republican Lincoln Chafee in the 2000 U.S. Senate election in Rhode Island (which Chafee won). During the 2000 U.S. Senate recruiting phase, U.S. Representative Richard A. Gephardt, then-U.S. House Minority Leader, appointed Kennedy to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, a high-profile assignment that led Kennedy to pass up the U.S. Senate opportunity for 2000.

He again considered running against Chafee in 2006.

A February 2010 poll commissioned by WPRI TV 12 in Providence indicated Kennedy's support was weak entering his expected re-election campaign, as 56% of 1st District voters viewed him unfavorably and only 35% said they would vote to re-elect Kennedy.[2] It was reported by Politico on February 11, 2010, that Kennedy would not seek re-election to Congress. Patrick Kennedy has since officially announced that he does not intend to run for re-election.[3]

Congressional committee assignments

From 1999 to 2001, he served as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — the Democratic Hill committee for the U.S. House. It works to elect Democrats to the U.S. House and it plays a critical role in recruiting candidates, raising funds and organizing races in districts that are expected to yield politically notable or close elections.

Since his tenure as Chairman of the DCCC, Kennedy has become a headliner at Democratic political events and fundraisers around the country. He is a Vice-Chairman of the Native American Caucus in the House of Representatives.

Since 2000, Kennedy has served on the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations and on its U.S. House standing subcommittees (or under their predecessor names):


From his position on the Appropriations Committee, he has been able to bring back extensive federal funding to his state. 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 more generous coverage for treatment of mental illnesses, comparable to what they provide for physical illnesses.[4]

He is a strong proponent of adding a comprehensive prescription-drug benefit to the U.S. Medicare and has consistently opposed attempts to privatize the Medicare program. Kennedy has also made numerous speeches advocating the reorientation of the U.S. health-care system to preventive care. He has received numerous awards for his health-care advocacy, including being named the recipient of the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s Paul E. Tsongas Memorial Award as well as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation Congressional Honors Award.[citation needed]

Health care

Kennedy is a vocal advocate for health care reform. He has joined with Republican U.S. Senator Pete Domenici from New Mexico in introducing legislation that places mental illness under the umbrella of health insurance.

Among the rewards received on behalf of his work include the Society for Neuroscience — Public Service Award (2002), Eli Lilly and Company 2003 Helping Move Lives Forward Reintegration Awards, American Psychoanalytic Association 2003 President’s Award, American Psychiatric Association Alliance award (2003), and the Depression and Bipolar Support AlliancePaul Wellstone Mental Health Award (2003).

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

He has expressed criticism at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence for not supporting for President Obama's health care reform, due to the fact that the latter would presumably include tax-subsidized abortion coverage within its provisions.[5][6]

2008 presidential election

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".[7] Prior to that, Kennedy had joined his first cousin Timothy Shriver in endorsing U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd from Connecticut.

Controversies, campaign and personal

Kennedy has acknowledged being treated for cocaine use during his teenage years, and admitted that he abused drugs and alcohol while he was a student at Providence College.[8] He sought treatment for an OxyContin addiction in 2006.[9]

During Easter weekend in 1991, Kennedy and his father were in Palm Beach, Florida, along with Patrick's cousin, William Kennedy Smith. At Au Bar, the 23-year-old Patrick met a 27-year-old Testas Restaurant waitress, Michelle Cassone, and Smith met another woman, Patricia Bowman. Both women returned with the Kennedys to the family's beachfront retreat, where a series of events took place that resulted in Smith being charged with raping Bowman. The prosecution alleged that the three Kennedys collaborated to cover up this alleged crime. In a widely covered trial, Smith was acquitted.[10]

In 2000, Kennedy was accused of pushing a female security guard at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. City prosecutors ultimately decided not to bring criminal charges against him and he paid an undisclosed civil settlement to the alleged victim almost two years later.[11]

Also in 2000, Atlantic Navigation Company of Mystic, Connecticut, claimed that a boat they rented to Kennedy was found abandoned off Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, with US$28,000 worth of damage.[12]

That same year, the U.S. Coast Guard was dispatched to Kennedy's yacht after he and his date became embroiled in an argument off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.[13]

In 2003, Kennedy was criticized for saying "I have never worked a fucking day in my life", which his staff later claimed was a satirical reference to repeated charges of never having worked.[14]

In 2007, the Kennedy camp stated that they would retain $6,600 in donations from convicted Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu. Kennedy is one of the few Democrats not to return or donate these contributions. This is a controversial action because of the allegation that Hsu had been using his personal funds to unfairly influence Washington.[15]

In February 2007, Kennedy was asked to refrain from receiving Holy Communion by his Bishop, Thomas Tobin. Kennedy said the bishop had explained the penalty by telling him “that I am not a good practicing Catholic because of the positions that I’ve taken as a public official,” particularly on abortion.[16]

Capitol Hill intoxicated -driving accident

On May 4, 2006, Kennedy crashed his 1997 Ford Mustang convertible into a barricade on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., at 2:45 a.m. A Capitol Police official said the congressman had appeared intoxicated when he crashed his car, but Kennedy claimed that he was merely disoriented from prescription medications Ambien and Phenergan.[17]. Anonymous sources are alleged to have seen Kennedy drinking at the nearby Hawk & Dove bar prior to the accident.[18][19] 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 that he had an addiction to prescription medication and announced he would be re-admitting himself to a drug-rehabilitation facility at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where he has sought treatment for prior addictions.[20] 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.[21] On June 5, 2006, Kennedy was released from drug rehabilitation.[22]

Kennedy's written narrative of the motor vehicle accident in April 2006.

After being asked if he expected any special treatment from authorities, Kennedy expressed that he hoped they would treat him as if he "were an African American in Anacostia".[23] On June 13, 2006, Kennedy made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of prescription drugs.[24] 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.[25]

On Friday, June 12, 2009, Kennedy again announced that he has "checked into a medical facility for treatment". In a statement to the press, Kennedy said that his recovery is a "lifelong process" and that he will 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. He did not disclose where he was being treated.

Rhode Island accident

In an earlier incident, on April 15, 2006, Kennedy was driving a Ford Crown Victoria — registered to the "Friends of Pat Kennedy Inc" — on Turnpike Avenue in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. As Kennedy attempted to turn left into a CVS pharmacy parking lot, his vehicle struck a Nissan Maxima driven by off-duty U.S. Coast Guard Warrant Officer Thomas Guthlein who was attempting to make a right turn into the same parking lot. Portsmouth police did not issue a citation to either driver.[26] One woman who witnessed the accident has expressed her opinion that Kennedy was impaired, but this has never been proven. Kennedy's handwriting on the police report was messy.[27] Guthlein is quoted in the Daily News (New York City) as saying "I never really got that close to him ... It was just a regular traffic accident".

Criticism of Senator Scott Brown

Kennedy criticized Republican Senator Scott Brown for demanding to be sworn in as a Senator as soon as the election results from the 2010 Massachusetts special senate election were certified. "Brown's whole candidacy was shown to be a joke today when he was sworn in early in order to cast his first vote as an objection to Obama's appointment to the NLRB," [28] Senator Brown responded “I was elected and the votes are certified and I’m here to do my job. It’s unfortunate that he would use mean-spirited comments like that at a time when we’re just trying to solve the problems of the Commonwealth” [29]

"Patches" nickname

Kennedy is often referred to as "Patches", mostly by detractors. This originated with Howie Carr, a Boston area radio host. He referenced a blues song by Clarence Carter with the following lyrics : "But I would remember what my daddy said, With tears in his eyes on his dyin bed. He said, "Patches, I'm depending on you son, To pull the family through. My son it's all left up to you."[30]

Troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

On March 10, 2010, Kennedy went on an angry tirade over the maneuvering stratagem to the war in Afghanistan during a debate of a measure calling for the end of the war. He yelled so loudly at times about the war in Afghanistan that he went hoarse until he was finally finished with his 3 minute time limit.[31] He anticipated that some would object to his demand to withdraw from Afghanistan by claiming such withdrawal would dishonor those who have already fallen. His comment was, "Somewhere -- I can't believe I even heard this -- someone said 'Oh, I can't go to a funeral, and tell the parents of someone who just died that they lost their child in vain'. Somewhere, I heard that during the Vietnam War." (Although he would have been no older than eight at the war's end in 1975.) After requesting an additional 30 seconds and being granted the time, Kennedy also went after the media for lack of coverage of the war, citing only two press members in the gallery at the time and "24/7" coverage of the resignation of Eric Massa. Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail called the tirade "a hissy fit" and charged that Kennedy was only upset that the media was not covering his own "grandstanding" over a "junk resolution."[32]

Personal life

Kennedy embraces President Obama at his father's funeral.

He has never married and resides in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. His father, Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy, died on August 25, 2009. Patrick Kennedy made a tearful eulogy at the funeral, saying that "He [Edward Kennedy] 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.[33][34]

Kennedy is bipolar, and has struggled with alcoholism, asthma, and depression for a good portion of his life.[35][36]

When Kennedy decided not to run for reelection in 2010, he cited his decision on the fact that his life "has taken a new direction". Mark Weiner, a major Democratic fundraiser 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."[37]


  1. ^ Staff writer (undated). "Kennedy, Patrick Joseph, (1967 - )". (a database module of, a part of the U.S. Library of Congress website). Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Rucker, Philip (12 March 2010). "Patrick Kennedy discusses leaving Congress after 16 years". The Washington Post. 
  5. ^ Kennedy spars with church on abortion
  6. ^ RI Catholic bishop faults Rep. Kennedy on abortion
  7. ^ Staff writer (January 28, 2008). "Patrick Kennedy to Join Father in Endorsing Obama for President". The Associated Press via The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  8. ^ Staff writer (April 19, 2001). "Approval Ratings Fall for Rhode Island Rep. Kennedy". Fox News.,2933,11637,00.html. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  9. ^ Staff writer (March 16, 2007). "Rep. Kennedy: I Was Hooked on OxyContin". The Associated Press via the San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Bell, Rachael (Undated). "William Kennedy Smith". "Crime Library" on truTV. Accessed August 31, 2009.
  11. ^Staff writer (April 10, 2001). "Approval Ratings Fall for Rhode Island Rep.  Kennedy". Fox News.,2933,11637,00.html. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  12. ^"Boat Woes Nothing New for Rep. Kennedy". WTNH. November 15, 2000. 
  13. ^Miga, Andrew (June 28, 2003). "'I Have Never Worked a (Bleepin) Day in my Life'; Patrick K patches up comment". The Associated Press.}GL}bfeiZm. 
  14. ^ Lynch, Dotty; Chaggaris, Steve (June 27, 2003). "Washington Wrap". CBS News. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  15. ^ Staff writer (September 4, 2007). "Arrest Warrant Issued For Fugitive Fundraiser Hsu". KTVU News. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  16. ^
  17. ^Miga, Andrew (May 5, 2006). "Police Report Filed in Kennedy Car Crash". The Associated Press. 
  18. ^Wedge, Dave (May 5, 2006). "Pat cites pills in car wreck". Boston Herald. 
  19. ^Wedge, Dave (May 12, 2006). "Cops Told Pat K Was at Watering Hole Before Crash". Boston Herald. 
  20. ^ Miga, Andrew (May 6, 2006). "Rep. Patrick Kennedy to Enter Drug Rehab". The Associated Press via The Washington Post. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  21. ^ Mayerowitz, Scott (May 9, 2006). "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 September 1, 2009. 
  22. ^Lewis, Richard (June 5, 2006). "Rep. Kennedy Released from Drug Rehab Clinic". Reuters. 
  23. ^McAuliff, Michael (June 6, 2006). "Treat me like I'm black, sez Teddy's son". Daily News. 
  24. ^Miga, Andrew (June 13, 2006). "Patrick Kennedy pleads guilty to DUI". The Associated Press. 
  25. ^ Akers, Mary Ann (July 13, 2006). "Life After Fender Bender". Roll Call. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  26. ^Portsmouth Rhode Island Police Accident Report #06-157-AC (PDF format)
  27. ^ Saltzman, Jonathan (May 6, 2006). "Kennedy's Behavior, Driving Is Questioned by Eyewitness". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ Patches Kennedy
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^

External links

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

1995 – present

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