Joseph P. Kennedy II

For the first son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., see Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.
Joseph P. 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
Personal details
Born Joseph Patrick Kennedy II
(1952-09-24) September 24, 1952
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sheila Brewster Rauch
(m. 1979–1991; divorced)
Anne Elizabeth Kelly
(m. 1993–present)
Children Matthew Rauch Kennedy
Joseph Patrick Kennedy III
Parents Robert Francis Kennedy
Ethel Skakel
Alma mater University of Massachusetts Boston
Religion Roman Catholicism

Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy II (born September 24, 1952) is an American businessman, Democratic politician, and a member of the Kennedy family.

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 founded and, until election to the U.S. House, led Citizens Energy Corporation, a non-profit energy company; since 1999 he has continued to lead Citizens Energy.

He is the eldest son of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy as well as the eldest grandson of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Kennedy.

Early life, education, and early business career

Kennedy was born in Brighton, a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, the second of 11 children of Ethel (Skakel) and Robert Francis Kennedy.[1] He was named after his grandfather Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., the patriarch of the Kennedy family.[lower-alpha 1] 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 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.[3][4]

Kennedy attended the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California, during 1972, but dropped out.[5] 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.[5] San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto personally praised Kennedy's work in the community.[5] Kennedy resigned from his position in the program, and returned to Massachusetts in the summer of 1973.[5]

On February 22, 1972, Kennedy was on Lufthansa Flight 649 when it was hijacked. Shortly after the inflight movie began during the 747's flight from New Delhi to Athens, five gunmen seized the jet and forced it to land at Aden International Airport, where all hostages were released on the following day.[6][7]

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.[8] The police cited Kennedy with reckless driving and the judge temporarily suspended his driver's license.[1][8] The Kennedy family paid for Kelley’s initial medical treatment and her continued care during the years following the accident.[9]

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.[10]

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 1986, incumbent Democrat and Speaker of the House Thomas Phillip "Tip" O'Neill, Jr., who had held 8th Congressional district seat since 1953, announced his retirement. Kennedy decided to run for the seat, which his uncle, former President John F. Kennedy, had held from 1947 to 1953. The Democratic nomination was contested by a number of well-known Democrats including State Senator George Bachrach and State Representative Mel King. However, Kennedy garnered endorsements from The Boston Globe and the retiring O'Neill. Kennedy won the primary with 53%.[11] He won the general election with 72% of the vote.[12] He won re-election in 1988 (80%), 1990 (72%), 1992 (83%), 1994 (99%), and 1996 (84%).[13]


Kennedy's legislative efforts in U.S. House of Representatives included:[14]

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".[29]

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".[30] 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"[31] in the midst of Congressional debate regarding the proposed articles of impeachment of President Bill Clinton.[32]

Committee assignments

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.

Citizens Energy (since 1999)


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.[33] 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.[34] 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.[35][36]

Public policy

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.[37]

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,[38] encouraging Congress to fully fund federal heating assistance programs,[39] proposing that oil-consuming countries work together to balance oil prices against Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) manipulation,[40] 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.[41] Kennedy has been criticized for the salaries paid to himself and his wife.[42] In 2012, as CEO of Citizens Energy and related organizations, Kennedy was paid a total of $796,000 in compensation, and his wife was paid an additional $344,000 as Director of Marketing.[43]


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 the United States.[44][45][46] In response, Kennedy and others[47][48] 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.[49]

In 2009, it was reported that in the previous two years, Citgo donated 83 million gallons of oil, which was used to provide heating assistance to an estimated 200,000 families a year in 23 states.[50]

Later political considerations

Gubernatorial elections

In 1993, a Boston Globe poll showed Kennedy within one percentage point of popular incumbent William Weld in a hypothetical gubernatorial matchup, prompting prominent state Democrats to try and recruit him for the race.[51] Though no other Democrat was polling near Weld, Kennedy decided to forgo the race and remain in congress. Mark Roosevelt won the nomination and lost to Governor Weld by over 40 points.

Kennedy was considered the front runner for the Massachusetts governorship in 1998,[52] but revelations about his personal life led to a tumultuous fall in public opinion polling, and he decided against running.[53]

2010 U.S. Senate election

With the death of his uncle U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy on August 25, 2009, Kennedy's name had 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."[54] However, Kennedy released a statement on September 7 explaining that he would not pursue the seat.[55] The seat eventually went by appointment to Paul G. Kirk, and later by election to Republican Scott Brown.

Personal life

On February 3, 1979, Kennedy married Sheila Brewster Rauch (born March 22, 1949), a daughter of banker Rudolph Stewart "Stew" Rauch, Jr.,[56] president then chairman of the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society, and Frances Stuart Brewster. On October 4, 1980, the couple had twin sons, Matthew Rauch "Matt" Kennedy and Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy. They were legally divorced in 1991. His son Matthew had his first child. Matthew's child is the third of the "sixth-generation" of Kennedys. His son Joseph had his first child. Joseph's child is the fourth of the "sixth-generation" of Kennedys.[57]

In 1993, Kennedy asked the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston for an annulment of the marriage, feeling 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 (born April 3, 1957)[58]—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.[59][60] Rauch refused to agree to the annulment,[61] and Kennedy married Beth in a non-Catholic civil ceremony on October 23, 1993.

The Boston Archdiocese initially granted Kennedy the annulment, which was discovered by Rauch only after the decision in 1996.[59] Sheila, who is an Episcopalian, wrote a book Shattered Faith: A Woman's Struggle to Stop the Catholic Church from Annulling Her Marriage,[61] 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 12-year marriage. A tribunal decision in favor of annulment is automatically appealed, and the decision is not effective until a second, conforming, sentence is granted. Instead of allowing the appeal to take place in the United States, Rauch appealed directly to the Holy See.[62]

The original decision was overturned by the highest appellate tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman Rota, in 2005. Rauch was not informed of the decision by the Boston Archdiocese until 2007.[63]

As the first decision was never confirmed, there was no time at which the Church declared the marriage to be null or gave Kennedy permission to remarry. Because the Rota was sitting as a second-instance appellate court,[64] Kennedy could appeal the decision to another Rotal panel.[62][64]

See also


  1. Some early sources misidentified him as Joseph P. Kennedy III, assuming he was named for his uncle Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., rather than his grandfather. He clarified the issue during his run for Congress.[2]


  1. 1 2 3 Heymann, Clemens D. (2007). American Legacy: The Story of John and Caroline Kennedy. Simon & Schuster. p. 194. ISBN 0-7434-9738-4.
  2. "Names & Faces: That's Joseph Kennedy II". The Atlanta Journal. December 5, 1985.
  3. Osborne, David (April 1985). "Joe Kennedy Makes a Name for Himself". Mother Jones. p. 20.
  4. De Los Reyes, Gaston (1993-11-13). "Manter School Endures". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Oppenheimer, Jerry. The Other Mrs. Kennedy. p. 578. St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1995.
  6. "RFK's Son Freed by Hijackers", Oakland Tribune, Feb. 22, 1972; "$5 Million Paid to Jet Hijackers", Tribune, Feb. 25, 1972
  7. "On This Day—23 February1972: Hijackers surrender and free Lufthansa crew". BBC. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  8. 1 2 Canellos, Peter S. Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy. p. 194. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009
  9. Taraborrelli , J. Randy. Jackie, Ethel, Joan: Women of Camelot, p. 423. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2000
  10. Walker, P. Wayne. 1997 Congressional Staff Directory (49th Edition), p. 111. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Books, June 1997
  11. "MA District 8 - D Primary Race - Sep 16, 1986". September 16, 1986.
  12. "MA District 8 - D Primary Race - Nov 04, 1986". November 4, 1986.
  13. "Candidate - Joseph P. Kennedy".
  14. "Executive Biography".
  15. Dober, Patrick; Callahan, Tom (1998-11-08). "Joe Kennedy's Home Run Against Bias". The Boston Globe.
  16. Turner, Robert L. (1989-07-02). "Joe Kennedy: the Happy Warrior". The Boston Globe. p. A45.
  17. Harrington, Walt (1993-06-06). "Settling In". The Washington Post (magazine section). p. 32.
  18. Op-ed essay. Flynn, Raymond L.; Kennedy II, Joseph P. (1988-01-25). "Decent, Affordable Housing for All". The New York Times.
  19. Kurkjian, Stephen (1995-10-13), "U.S. Urged to Probe Business Insurers". The Boston Globe.
  20. Keller, Jon (1995-02-05). "Joe Kennedy's Clear-Eyed View of How Things Are". The Boston Globe. p. 3.
  21. Kennedy II, Joseph P. (1995-12-27). "Corporations Rake in Subsidies as Poor, Aged Suffer Cuts". The Boston Globe.
  22. Pear, Robert (1998-05-10). "House Votes to Overhaul Housing for the Poor". The New York Times.
  23. Kennedy II, Joseph P. (1998-02-02). "R&D, Engine of Our Growth". Boston Herald.
  24. Black, Chris (1995-11-25). "Rep. Kennedy Acts to Protect Small Shops". The Boston Globe.
  25. Sullivan, Paul (1993-01-30). "Kennedy Targets Stalking in New Bill". Boston Herald.
  26. Kennedy II, Joseph P. (1993-04-25). "It's Time to Give the Courts Legal Tools to Put Stalkers Away". Boston Herald.
  27. "Rep. Kennedy Takes on Beer Ads". The Boston Globe. (May 17, 1996); "Celebrating Sobriety". The Boston Globe. (July 3, 1996).
  28. Kennedy II, Joseph P. (1998-02-08). "Growing Up Hungry in a Time of Plenty". The Boston Globe. pp. C1-C2.
  29. De Witt, Karen (1991-05-17). "Queen's Address to Congress Celebrates Mutual Respect". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  30. Goldberg, Carey (1998-03-14). "Joseph Kennedy 2d Will Quit Congress; Family Needs Cited". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
  31. Miga, Andrew (1998-12-19). "Joe K's Final Speech on the House Floor Is His Finest". Boston Herald.
  32. Meehan, Marty (1999-01-10). "Joe K Leaves Legacy of Morality". Boston Herald. p. 27.
  33. Katz, Marisa (2001-01-15). "Heat Is On, Thanks to Joe". The Providence Journal.
  34. Citizens Energy website, "Natural Gas: Our Experience"
  35. Citizens Energy website, "Electricity Transmission: Our Experience"
  36. Sheingold,, Barry J. "Power Marketing for the People". Public Power (January–February 1990), pp. 24–29.
  37. Chapman, Fern Schumer (1994-07-23). "Joe Kennedy, The Poor Man's Oil Tycoon". Fortune. pp. 98–101.
  38. Kennedy II, Joseph P. (2001-05-15). "Taking Steps Towards Energy Independence". The Boston Globe.
  39. Catell, Robert B.; Kennedy II, Joseph P. (2006-10-02). "Congress: Turn Up the Heat". Newsday.
  40. Kennedy II, Joseph P. (2001-04-18). "Organized Oil-Consuming Countries Could Offset OPEC". USA Today. p. A13.
  41. Kennedy II, Joseph P. (2005-09-26). "Sharing the Oil Price Windfall". The Boston Globe.
  42. Isabel Vincent, "RFK son is broken up over Chavez death", New York Post, Mar. 2013.
  43. Citizen Audit, IRS Form 990, Citizens Energy Corporation, 2012.
  44. Editorial (2006-11-28). Dial Joe-4-Chávez, The Wall Street Journal. Accessed 2009-08-27.
  45. Tom Phillips, “Hugo Chavez says Obama is ‘a clown and an embarrassment’”, The Guardian, 20 Dec. 2011.
  46. Howard LaFranchi, “Hugo Chavez era ends: Will US-Venezuela relations improve?”, Christian Science Monitor, 5 March 2013.
  47. Editorial (2007-02-19). "Rhetoric Fails to Help Poor". The Daily News Tribune.
  48. Walker, Adrian. (2005-11-24). "Oil Deal Is Her Lifeline". The Boston Globe.
  49. Kennedy, Joseph P. "Yes, oil from Venezuela". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 24, 2006.
  50. Rezendes, Michael; Bierman, Noah (2009-09-06). "As Joe Kennedy Considers Run, Chavez Ties Loom". The Boston Globe. p. 1.
  52. Harden, Blaine (1997-08-29). "Joseph Kennedy Ends Gubernatorial Bid". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
  54. Another Senator Kennedy in Massachusetts?
  55. "Former Rep. Joseph Kennedy Nixes Senate Campaign". via The New York Times. The Associated Press. 2009-09-07. Retrieved 2009-09-07. (website registration required)
  56. "R. Stewart Rauch, Jr." (PDF). Retrieved December 4, 2002.
  57. Taraborrelli, J. Randy (2012). After Camelot: A Personal History of the Kennedy Family--1968 to the Present. Hachette Digital, Inc.
  58. American Experience | The Kennedys | Kennedy Family Tree | PBS
  59. 1 2 Lawson, Carol (1997-04-24). "Seeking to Annul the Annulment". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  60. "Frequently Asked Questions". Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  61. 1 2 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 978-0-8050-5828-4.
  62. 1 2 Israel, Jeff (2007-06-19). "Joe Kennedy's First Marriage: Still On". Time. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  63. Staff writer (2007-06-20). "Vatican Undoes Annulment of Ex-Rep. Kennedy—Eldest Son of Late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy Was Married in 1991". MSNBC. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-09-03.
  64. 1 2 "Code of Canon Law – Canon 1444". Archived from the original on 2010-01-08. Retrieved 2009-09-03.
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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