Politics

Ted Kennedy shrine set to cost taxpayers lots of money

Photo of Caroline May
Caroline May
Political Reporter

You’ve got to hand it to him, even in death former Democratic Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy can spend the taxpayer’s money and drive conservatives mad.

At issue this go around is an educational institute honoring the late “Hero of Chappaquiddick”: the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The structure is set to cost taxpayers no more than $68 million, $38.3 million of which has already been appropriated for the project.

The money for the project will not just come from the good people of the Bay State but also from taxpayers across the country. According to the Traditional Values Coalition, since 2009 the Kennedy Institute has received three rounds of major appropriations from the federal government.

In the 2009 federal budget, $5,813,000 was appropriated to the project through the Labor Department and Department of Health & Human Services spending bill. In the 2010 budget, $13,600,000 was funneled through the from the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services and another $18,900,000 through the Defense Department spending bill.

In April of last year, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry and Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Edward Markey attempted to insert another $8 million more in the now defunct Omnibus bill.

With $38.3 million already in the Institutes’s coffers and Kennedy’s wife Vicki pushing hard for more, Andre Lafferty and the Traditional Values Coalition are keeping a sharp eye, hoping to prevent any more federal funds from going to Kennedy’s center.

“You’ve got people out of work, losing jobs and Vicki says, ‘She’ll only take up to $68 million in taxpayer dollars for the project.’ Only!” Lafferty exclaimed.

The Traditional Values Coalition aims to even get the Institute to surrender the funding it has already received.

“This is my feeling, give it back. The $38 million they already have received, they should give it back,” Lafferty told TheDC. “We’d like to do a ‘Give It Back’ campaign to shame them because it is not right. He was not a president and whether I like Bush, Carter, Obama, whoever, they were presidents they get presidential libraries…. This man was not president and he never will be.”

The Institute will house Kennedy’s papers and will feature a museum with exhibits focusing on Kennedy and government, a gift shop, archives, and classroom space. It is set to be built next door to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

The Institute website explains the vision:

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (the EMK Institute) is dedicated to educating the public about our government, invigorating public discourse, encouraging participatory democracy, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the public square. The Institute will be a dynamic center of non-partisan learning and engagement that takes advantage of cutting-edge technology to provide each visitor and other participants with a unique and information rich, personalized experience that will bring history alive.