Letter to the Editor: Kennedy doesn't 'walk the walk' with progressives

To the Editor:

Joe Kennedy’s recent tax disclosures and financial statement indicate he “talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk.” We are troubled by a clear pattern by the Congressman to say one thing and do another. While TV ads portray him as a “progressive”, a “man of the people” taking on a “failed system,” his financials tell a different story.

During this campaign, Kennedy has touted his work on the opioid epidemic and used Congressional hearings to drill Big Pharma executives, while records show he has been deeply invested in stocks for Pfizer, Merck, Eli Lily, Proctor & Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, and other large pharmaceutical companies. (See FEC filing)

During this campaign, he has touted his support for the Green New Deal, authored by US Sen. Ed Markey and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but he waited until May of 2020 to divest his holdings in Exxon Mobil and Chevron, reaping substantial profits. He continues to have substantial other investments in the fossil fuel industry. (See FEC filing)

During this campaign, Kennedy has touted his efforts to reform our political process, while accepting large sums from hedge fund executives, and then opposing the Tax Fairness Act on carried interest which would require wealthy financiers to pay their fair share. He is the third largest recipient of hedge fund dollars. Markey was an original sponsor of the Tax Fairness bill in 2015 and Kennedy has declined to cosponsor the legislation. (See Center for Responsive Politics)

While families struggle to meet rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic, Congressman Kennedy’s tax filing show he receives $100,000 annually from a family trust, much of it from fossil fuels and Big Pharma. While he claims he has no control of a family trust, he is the beneficiary. Three years ago, he purchased a $3.5 million home in an exclusive Newton neighborhood. (See 2018 tax filing).

During this campaign, Congressman Kennedy marched for racial equity and called for fresh faces and fresh ideas. But just two years ago, when Ayanna Pressley challenged an incumbent to be the first African American woman in our Congressional delegation, Kennedy was with the incumbent.

As for fresh ideas, Kennedy has been in Congress for eight years…and we’re still waiting. He complains about the failed politics of the past 50 years. Who is he speaking about? Ted Kennedy was in Washington for 47 years, Patrick Kennedy for 16 years, Joe Kennedy II for 12 years, and Joe Kennedy III for 8 years. They were our leaders for the past 50 years, and we respected them all.

We support US Sen. Ed Markey because for decades he has consistently fought climate change and to protect the environment. He has consistently fought for healthcare for all. He has consistently fought for fairness and access to the internet. He has not merely been a progressive vote. He has been a progressive leader. He has not merely raised these issues during a political campaign, he has quietly done the hard work in the trenches over many years.

Scott Gilman is an environmental activist with Sunrise Boston. Shannon Jackson worked on the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.