Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

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Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Robert Kennedy, Jr., in 2007
BornRobert Francis Kennedy, Jr.
(1954-01-17) January 17, 1954 (age 59)
Washington, D.C.
EducationBA in American History and Literature (Harvard University)
JD (University of Virginia School of Law)
LLM (Pace University School of Law)
Political partyDemocratic
ReligionRoman Catholic
Spouse(s)Emily Ruth Black
(m. 1982–1994; divorced)
Mary Richardson
(m. 1994–2012; her death)
ChildrenSix children
ParentsRobert F. Kennedy
Ethel Kennedy
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Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Robert Kennedy, Jr., in 2007
BornRobert Francis Kennedy, Jr.
(1954-01-17) January 17, 1954 (age 59)
Washington, D.C.
EducationBA in American History and Literature (Harvard University)
JD (University of Virginia School of Law)
LLM (Pace University School of Law)
Political partyDemocratic
ReligionRoman Catholic
Spouse(s)Emily Ruth Black
(m. 1982–1994; divorced)
Mary Richardson
(m. 1994–2012; her death)
ChildrenSix children
ParentsRobert F. Kennedy
Ethel Kennedy

Robert Francis Kennedy, Jr., (born January 17, 1954) is an American radio host, activist, and attorney specializing in environmental law. He is the third of eleven children born to Ethel (Skakel) Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy and is the nephew of John F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. Kennedy co-hosts Ring of Fire, a nationally syndicated American radio program.



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 law degree from the University of Virginia and a Master of Laws degree from Pace University.[1]

Personal life

Kennedy, Jr. at Ralph Lauren's 40th anniversary celebration in 2007

Kennedy married Emily Ruth Black (b. October 15, 1957)[2] on April 3, 1982, in Bloomington, Indiana;[citation needed] she is the daughter of Thomas Black and Libby Armstrong.[citation needed] They have two children: Robert F. III, b. 1984, and Kathleen Alexandra, b. 1988. They divorced on March 25, 1994, in the Dominican Republic.[citation needed]

Kennedy subsequently married Mary Richardson (October 4, 1959 – May 16, 2012) on April 15, 1994, aboard a research vessel along the Hudson River.[3][4] They had four children: Conor Richardson (b. July 1994), Kyra LeMoyne (b. 1995), William Finbar (b. 1997), and Aiden Caohman Vieques (b. 2001). On May 12, 2010, Kennedy filed for divorce from Mary; three days later she was charged with drunken driving.[5] 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.[6][7][8]

Kennedy is a licensed master falconer and former president of the New York State Falconer's Association.[9] He is also an avid whitewater rafter and has led several rafting trips in Canada and Central America.[10][11] 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.

Criminal record


In 1983, he was arrested in a Rapid City, South Dakota Airport for heroin possession. A search of his carry-on bag uncovered 183 milligrams of the drug.[12] 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.[12]


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.[13][14]

Legal career

In 1983, Kennedy was hired by New York County District Attorney and longtime family friend Robert M. Morgenthau to be an office assistant.[15] [16]

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.[17] 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.[18] Riverkeeper was founded in 1966 by a group of fishermen and residents from New York.[19]

Kennedy also founded and is the current chairman of the umbrella organization Waterkeeper Alliance,[20] which connects and supports local waterkeeper groups. Today there are 191 waterkeeper programs worldwide operating under the trademarked "Riverkeeper", "Lakekeeper", "Baykeeper", or "Coastkeeper" names.[21]

Since 1987 Kennedy has served as a Clinical Professor of Environmental Law and co-director of the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic[22] 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,[10] a non-profit organization based in New York which works to expand environmental laws and restrict land use.

Media work and public activism

In 1998, Kennedy, Chris Bartle and John Hoving created a bottled water company that donates all of its profits to Waterkeeper Alliance.[23] 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.[24] Their product is bottled under the name Keeper Springs.[25]

Kennedy previously co-hosted Ring of Fire on Air America Radio with Mike Papantonio,[26] even though he suffers from spasmodic dysphonia,[27] a disorder that makes speech difficult and causes the voice to sound quavery.

Kennedy has written two books and several articles on environmental issues. His articles have appeared in 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, The Village Voice and many more. Since May 2005 he's been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post, a blog run by Arianna Huffington.[28]

An outspoken opponent of vaccination, in June 2005 Kennedy authored an article in Rolling Stone and alleging a government conspiracy to cover up connections between the vaccine preservative thimerosal and childhood autism.[29] The article contained a number of factual errors, leading 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.[30] Previous to this retraction, sometime in 2010, Rolling Stone had also deleted Kennedy's article from their archives without explanation.[31][32] 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.[32]

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."[33] This position angered some environmentalists.[34]

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.[35]

In an article in the June 5, 2006, issue of Rolling Stone titled "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?",[36] Kennedy comes to the conclusion that the Republican Party stole the 2004 American presidential election. Farhad Manjoo, Technology staff writer for, has criticized Kennedy's interpretation and methodology.[37] Kennedy responded to Manjoo's criticisms in detail.[38]

Kennedy during a 2007 speech in Urbana, Illinois

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".[39] 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.[40] Kennedy also sits on the board of directors of the Food Allergy Initiative.[41]

In 2009 Kennedy collaborated on an article titled, "The Energy of Bobby Kennedy, Jr."[42] for the debut summer issue of Above magazine, an ecological magazine based in London.

In May 2010 Kennedy was named one of's "Heroes for the Planet" for his success in helping Riverkeeper to restore the Hudson River.[43] In 2005, he argued for a link between global warming and Hurricane Katrina in an editorial for the Huffington Post.[44]

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.

Kennedy's early environmental work is featured in two films by director Les Guthman, The Hudson Riverkeepers[45] and The Waterkeepers.[46]

2008 presidential election

In late 2007, Robert[47] and his sisters Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Kerry Kennedy[48] announced that they would be endorsing Hillary Clinton.

In response to subsequent endorsements by Caroline Kennedy, Ted Kennedy and Patrick J. Kennedy for Barack Obama, Robert, Kathleen and Kerry 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."[49]

Kennedy was also featured in an ad campaign for Clinton alongside the grandson of Cesar Chavez.[50] 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.[51]

Political aspirations

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.[52] 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 and Kennedy announced on December 2, 2008 that he would not run because "a successful campaign would have left him too little time with his wife and six children and he was unwilling to make that sacrifice."[53]


Political books

Children's books


  1. ^ The Backbone Cabinet – A Progressive Cabinet Roster,
  2. ^ American Experience | The Kennedys | Kennedy Family Tree, PBS
  3. ^ Brozan, Nadine (April 20, 1994). "Chronicle". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  4. ^ "Names & Faces – Romantic Voyage". The Daily Gazette. Apr 21, 1994. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  5. ^ "Bobby Kennedy Jr. sues wife for divorce". The Journal News. Retrieved 2010-07-13.
  6. ^ "Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, Dead". ABC News. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
  7. ^ Hall, Christine. "Police: Mary Kennedy Committed Suicide". The Bedford Daily Voice. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  8. ^ Button, Liz. "Hanging Confirmed as Cause of Kennedy's Death". The Bedford Daily Voice. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  9. ^ Robert F. Kennedy Jr,
  10. ^ a b Robert F. Kennedy Jr,
  11. ^ Our President, Waterkeeper Alliance
  12. ^ a b "AROUND THE NATION; Kennedy Son GivenProbation in Drug Case". The New York Times. March 17, 1984.
  13. ^ "Kennedy Gets Noted Defense, And 30 Days". The New York Times. July 7, 2001.
  14. ^ "US Navy resumes Vieques war games". BBC News. August 2, 2001.
  15. ^ About Robert F. Kennedy Jr,
  16. ^,,20086047,00.html
  17. ^ Official website,
  18. ^ Worth, Robert (June 22, 2000). "Eight at Riverkeeper Resign over Kennedy's Hiring of a Rare-Egg Smuggler". The New York Times.
  19. ^ Our Story,
  20. ^ "Waterkeeper Alliance". Retrieved 2012-05-17.
  21. ^ Mission, Waterkeeper Alliance
  22. ^ Staff,
  23. ^ The Idea,
  24. ^ Charlie Rose, A conversation about the Hudson River pollution with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and John Cronin,
  25. ^ Official website, Keeper Springs.
  26. ^ Ring of Fire, Air America Radio.
  27. ^ Leibovich, Mark (25 June 2006). "Another Kennedy Living Dangerously". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-01-23.
  28. ^ Robert F. Kennedy Jr., The Huffington Post.
  29. ^ R. F. Kennedy, Jr. (June 20, 2005). "Deadly Immunity (corrected)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
  30. ^ Kerry Lauerman (16 January 2011). "Correcting our record". Retrieved 2011-01-16. "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.""
  31. ^ Edwards, Jim (January 21, 2011). "Rolling Stone Retracts Autism Article, but Lots of Junk Journalism Remains". CBS BNET.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ An Ill Wind Off Cape Cod, The New York Times, December 16, 2005.
  34. ^ The Wind and the Willful,, January 1, 2006.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ Was the 2004 Election Stolen?, Rolling Stone.
  37. ^ Was the 2004 election stolen? No., Salon News, June 3, 2006.
  38. ^ Was the 2004 election stolen? RFK responds, Salon News, June 6, 2006.
  39. ^ RFK JR – Live Earth, YouTube.
  40. ^ Paulson, Michael (March 15, 2005). "A natural devotion". The Boston Globe.
  41. ^ "FAI Leadership". at Food Allergy Initiative. 2008. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  42. ^ "The Energy of Bobby Kennedy, Jr.", Above magazine, Summer 2009.
  43. ^ Rosenblatt, Roger (July 19, 1999). "In Search of the Beauty And Mystery of Home". Time.,2967,kennedy,00.html. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  44. ^ "For They That Sow the Wind Shall Reap the Whirlwind.", Huffington Post.
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^ Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. endorses Hillary Clinton, CNN, November 29, 2007.
  48. ^ Kennedy Family Split On Endorsements, CBS News, December 16, 2007.
  49. ^ Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Kerry Kennedy (29 January 2008). "Kennedys for Clinton". Los Angeles Times.,0,1618955.story. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
  50. ^ Beth Fouhy (2 February 2008). "Clinton Ads Feature Kennedy, Chavez Kin". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-02-02.[dead link]
  51. ^ Show Number: 0841, Air Date: week of October 8, 2008, "Etown at the DNC Pt. II", ETown
  52. ^ Tony Allen-Mills (21 January 2007). "Kennedy Jr. eyes Hillary’s Senate seat". The Sunday Times (London).,,2089-2557909,00.html. Retrieved 2008-02-02.
  53. ^ Robert F. Kennedy’s Son Not Interested in Senate Seat, The New York Times.

External links