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Lifestyles of the rich and infamous


The NYT does a deep dive into RFK Jr.’s financial adventures, and it’s not a pretty picture.

It’s hard to excerpt, because it’s a very tangled story, but the bottom line is that Kennedy has spent his life cashing in on his name and family connections, to support a wildly extravagant lifestyle. Recently, a lot of his money has come from his connection to litigation based on his monstrously irresponsible anti-vax views.

A few nuggets:

Mr. Kennedy owns between $4 million and $15 million in inherited assets, held in trusts — the biggest, a stake in Wolf Point, a Chicago real estate development built on land his grandfather bought decades ago. Over the years, Mr. Kennedy has enjoyed large one-time distributions from his trust funds when assets were sold, according to bank records and public documents.

But the trusts do not tend to generate much steady income: He received between roughly $29,000 and $90,500 over a recent 18-month period, according to the F.E.C. filing. While certainly a boon, it is far from enough to finance Mr. Kennedy’s lifestyle: At one point, a little over a decade ago, he estimated that his annual household expenses were $1.4 million.

“A little over a decade ago” is the story’s demure description of the moment when his wife killed herself, in the midst of a bitter divorce.

“I have never gotten a lot of money from my family,” Mr. Kennedy told The Times.

He said his biggest expense in recent years was his children’s education. He drives, he said, a 1998 minivan. But he also lives with his wife, the actress Cheryl Hines, in a $6 million home in Brentwood, an affluent Los Angeles neighborhood.

BTW, the carrying cost just in real estate taxes and home insurance on a $6 million home in Brentwood is around $10,000 per month, which some people would consider real money, despite the burdens of that aging mini-van.

Moving right along:

Mr. Kennedy was leading an expensive life between his home in Bedford, N.Y., a wealthy enclave north of Manhattan, where he lived with his wife and children, and the home he was using on Cape Cod. He bought the Bedford house in the 1980s, with financing from the sale of a luxury Manhattan apartment that a close family friend had willed to him, records show.

In 2010, Mr. Kennedy’s household expenses reached $1.4 million. The mortgage and a home-equity loan on the Bedford property cost about $191,000. Memberships to a yacht club and other organizations ran him more than $14,000, while nannies and housekeepers cost more than $70,000. Pool maintenance was upward of $12,000. On top of those expenses, his assistant earned roughly $200,000.

His use of the home at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., was made possible by wealthy friends, The Times found. It had been purchased by a lawyer with ties to Wendy Abrams, a Chicago-based philanthropist who has donated millions of dollars to environmental causes, including some of Mr. Kennedy’s, records show.

It’s good to have friends.

In the interview, Mr. Kennedy said Ms. Abrams and her husband, whom he described as his closest friends, stepped in because he did not have enough money to buy the home when it came up for sale.

The house, a six-bedroom with traditional gray shingles, was bought in 2008 for $2.5 million. For years, Mr. Kennedy paid $4,000 a month in rent. The lease, which was reviewed by The Times, shows that he had an option to buy the home for the original purchase price, which he did in 2020.

The Abramses, Mr. Kennedy said in the deposition, had also footed the bill for a vacation to Jamaica for him; his then-girlfriend, Ms. Hines; and their respective children, while the Natural Resources Defense Council sometimes paid for his children to travel with him.

“All my vacations are paid for. So I just, I try not to spend money,” Mr. Kennedy said in the deposition.

Ms. Abrams told The Times she commonly hosted friends in rented vacation homes. Mr. Kennedy said in his interview with The Times that his work for the N.R.D.C. could involve spending weeks in other countries, and the nonprofit agreed to pay for his children to travel to see him. The N.R.D.C. declined to comment.

The whole thing is like this.

The grossest stuff is his cashing in on his anti-vax garbage:

By 2021, the last full year for which data is available, he was making slightly more than $500,000 a year at Children’s Health Defense, up from $255,000 in 2019.

After writing his book about thimerosal, he returned to his publisher, Skyhorse Publishing, to write a scathing book in 2021 about Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s long-serving top infectious disease specialist who became a focus of rage for people skeptical of the coronavirus vaccine.

The book sold well, more than 500,000 copies in hardcover, according to Circana BookScan.

“Children’s Health Defense” is the anti-vax non-profit RFK Jr. founded, back in 2005 when he started doing his own research.

As for the for-profit (in the IRS code sense) side of this grift:

One firm, the California-based Wisner Baum, paid him $1.6 million over the 18 months ending in June, according to his F.E.C. filing. Over the years, he has worked on environmental cases for Wisner Baum, including as a lawyer on the team that won a $290 million judgment against the chemical giant Monsanto, the maker of Roundup weed killer.

More recently, however, Mr. Kennedy has been listed as co-counsel on dozens of lawsuits that Wisner Baum has brought against the pharmaceutical company Merck for injuries it says were caused by a vaccine formulated to prevent the transmission of human papillomavirus.

The Children’s Health Defense website also scouts clients for Wisner Baum, encouraging parents to call the firm if they believe their child might have been harmed by the HPV vaccine.

Another law firm, JW Howard Attorneys, paid Mr. Kennedy about $315,000 over the same 18-month period. JW Howard was one of the firms that handled a case brought by the Orange County Board of Education and Children’s Health Defense seeking to end the Covid-19 state of emergency that California declared in the spring of 2020.

And this past January, JW Howard was counsel on a lawsuit filed by Children’s Health Defense and Mr. Kennedy against The Washington Post, Reuters and other news organizations, accusing them of colluding to stop the publication of certain Covid stories, among other allegations.

The one positive thing I’ll say about this scumbag is that he does actually appear to believe sincerely in his anti-vax idiocy. Back in the good old days he was making between $25K and $250K for speeches, and giving around 60 per year (you do the math). That’s pretty much dried up now because apparently the anti-vax stuff is a bridge too far for the sort of people who will pay that kind of money to be in this moron failson’s pseudo-royal presence. So he’s had to go the pimping his name out to sleazy law firms route.

A man’s got to feed his family after all. And what if they don’t like bread? What if they like Brentwood mansions?

What a racket.

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