WASHINGTON — Heirs to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy are giving $185,000 from his campaign account and their personal wealth to Democratic House candidates in gratitude to Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her role in enacting a landmark health care law.
Kennedy's son, retiring Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, said Wednesday he persuaded the estate's executors that Pelosi embodied his father's passion for public service and achievement. Patrick Kennedy is giving the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee $30,000 of his personal money in addition to $155,000 from his father's re-election fund.
Party officials said no other House member this year has given the campaign committee $30,000, the legal maximum for an individual.
The longtime Massachusetts senator died last August while Congress was debating the health care bill, his top legislative priority. His death nearly derailed the bill in January, as Massachusetts voters replaced him with a Republican who opposed the measure.
But Pelosi persuaded dozens of House Democrats to accept unpopular compromises with the Senate, enabling President Barack Obama to sign the bill into law.
In an interview Wednesday, Patrick Kennedy called Pelosi's actions "a stroke of political genius."
The DCCC is spearheading efforts to maintain the Democrats' majority in the Nov. 2 elections.