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Taxpayer Funds Flow Into Ted Kennedy Shrine

By Monday, 30 March 2015 07:16 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The titans of American liberalism will gather in Boston today to dedicate a shrine to the late Ted Kennedy, who died in 2009.

President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. Elizabeth Warren will all gather to praise the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. Much will be said about Kennedy’s 46-year record in the U.S. Senate, nothing about various scandals that ranged from Chappaquiddick to his attempts to have the Soviets intervene in the 1984 presidential election against Ronald Reagan.

Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr points out that the Insititute “was supposed to be paid for exclusively with private donations.” But it should come as no surprise that the gorgeous 40,000-square-foot building that will house Kennedy’s papers and memorabilia as well as a recreation of his personal office and the Senate chamber was financed with a generous $38 million congressional earmark. The state of Massachusetts chipped in with another $5 million for education “infrastructure.”

A 2010 attempt by then Sen. Kerry to funnel an additional $28.9 million in funding to the Institute from the Defense Department’s budget ran into heavy flak.

Peter Meade, then the president of the institute, defended the use of the defense money, saying the institute would have programs geared for children of active military personnel. But in the tea party year of 2010, such arguments were laughable, and the money flow stopped.

That left the institute to raise more funds privately, and they have succeeded. Last night, the nonprofit held a grand gala, charging $250,000 for people who wanted to be members of the “chairman’s circle.” The cheapest ticket cost $2,500.

The institute now has a $50 million endowment to fulfill its mission of, in the words of Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey’s office, “helping Americans learn more about the Senate’s vital place in our democratic system and the historic leading role that the late Senator Kennedy played during his decades of outstanding service.”

But that education won’t come cheaply. Admission to view the Ted Kennedy shrine will be $16, with a $2 discount for Bay State residents and free admission for young students.

Other historical venues in Boston are much cheaper. The USS Constitution warship has a suggested donation, Paul Revere’s house is $3.50 and even the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, which is adjacent to the Kennedy Institute, only charges $14 per adult admission. The JFK library, by the way, was built completely with private funds.

Kennedy Institute officials insist that 130,000 people will flow through their facility every year. Color me skeptical. In the digital age, the Kennedy clan could have built an awesome interactive website to highlight the senator’s accomplishments and the role the Senate plays in American life (usually dysfunctional today). But then it’s hard to turn a website into a shrine, and the federal money was there for the taking. So Boston will now have yet another monument to the Kennedy family to accompany the presidential library and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

I’m looking forward to someday visiting Boston and seeing just what my tax dollars helped build.

John Fund is an expert on American politics where politics and economics and legal issues meet. He previously served as a columnist and editorial board member for The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of several books, including "Who's Counting: Bow Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote At Risk," "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy,” and "The Dangers of Regulation Through Litigation." He worked as a research analyst for the California Legislature in Sacramento before beginning his journalism career as a reporter for the syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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The titans of American liberalism will gather in Boston today to dedicate a shrine to the late Ted Kennedy, who died in 2009.
kennedy, jfk, museum
Monday, 30 March 2015 07:16 AM
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