Citizen Kennedy's Energy

By Adams, James Ring | The American Spectator, December 1997 | Go to article overview

Citizen Kennedy's Energy

Adams, James Ring, The American Spectator





Is some really bad, as yet unknown scandal hanging over the Kennedy family? That's the question titillating Massachusetts insiders ever since Congressman Joseph Patrick Kennedy III announced he would not run for governor in 1998. After all, his recent troubles-his ex-wife's campaign against the Roman Catholic Church's policy on marriage annulments, and his brother's baby-sitter imbroglio-had run their course, and he was still competitive.

In withdrawing, Rep. Kennedy referred to the prospect of press scrutiny of his family's sexual affairs, as if that scrutiny could get any more intense. Perhaps he had belatedly grasped the secret of the Kennedys' unbroken winning streak in Massachusetts elections-that they have never run for the highly accountable job of governor. But there is indeed a secret hidden in the Kennedy cupboard, and it's not just a personal skeleton but the key to the fortunes of Bobby Kennedy's children.

Before running for Congress, young Joseph based his career on a nonprofit energy company geared to providing low-cost heating oil .to needy Bay Staters. But with help from international oil hustlers such as Roger Tamraz, the shock boy of the recent Thompson hearings, Kennedy's politically correct Citizens Energy Corporation has become the front for a highly profit-oriented empire of overseas oil concessions. Its intrigues in hot spots like Angola and the Congo have involved the Kennedy family with a whole cast of global wheeler-dealers, of whom the outspoken Mr. Tamraz is only the latest to enter the spotlight. Citizens Energy is a key player in an unfolding foreign policy debacle in which the Clinton administration has sold out longterm friends of the United States to unlikely coalitions of old Marxists and corporate hustlers. But the Kennedys' operation is so carefully shielded behind good works that its dimensions might not have come to view at all if not for a family split partly stemming from the still-unsolved murder, twenty-two years ago, of a teenage girl in a fashionable New York suburb.

The Global Citizens of Citizens Energy

Citizens Energy Corporation, the nonprofit holding company, takes up the fifth floor of the old Russia Wharf building, a renovated brick warehouse on Boston's former waterfront. Landfills have moved the shoreline east, but in 1773 the vacant lot next door was the quay where tea-bearing ships of the East India Company sat until anti-tax colonials dumped their cargo into the harbor. The reception area displays the PC flourishes of a recycled building: an exposed brick wall and a ceiling stripped to the original brick vaulting. But the office directory in the stairwell presents the picture of an energy conglomerate with tentacles reaching into Wall Street and the cut-throat world oil market. Its for-profit subsidiaries include Citizens Gas Supply Corp., Citizens Power and Light Corp., Citizens Energy International, and Citizens Lehman Power LP, a partnership with the well-known Lehman Brothers investment-banking firm. The directory is actually out of date, since many of these dependencies have recently been spun off or sold in multi-million dollar deals, with six-figure bonuses for Citizens Energy executives.

These deals don't quite fit the nonprofit image carefully cultivated since 1979, when Joe Kennedy joined in launching the corporation in the midst of the "energy crisis" hysteria. At first its ostensible purpose was to provide low-cost heating oil to poor families (the way the New York Times still described it this summer, in a respectful page-and-a-half profile of the eleven children of Robert and Ethel Kennedy). Yet from the beginning Citizens Energy dangled the Kennedy name to strike deals with hardened veterans of international oil. …

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