Massachusetts Senate Race: Senator Ed Markey vs. Representative Joe Kennedy
By Kirstin Beatty, 2020 April 17 ~ updated 2020 June 30
Please note, initially there was one early mistake in examining one scorecard from NFIB, by confusing Rep. Joe Kennedy with Sen. John Kennedy, the latter being a Louisiana Republican and who has quite different stances than Rep. Joe Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat.
If citing research and opinions below, please credit the author or Last Tree Laws.
Question: Which legislator might best protect consumers from electromagnetic exposures from either utilities or telecommunications infrastructure?
Finding: Kennedy is the clear winner, and Markey continues to neglect a promise to attend to safe technology.
Summary: Kennedy is the clear winner on this issue, but needs to do more. Both have alluded to support – Markey specifically for “safe” technology in response to wireless concerns and Kennedy for curtailing the Telecommunications Act of 1996. However, Markey has directly undermined his promises by continuing to put forward legislation that ignores safer, wired technologies or reduces local zoning control – this shows a lack of fidelity to his promises.
Worse, Markey authored the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and without remorse to this day, and for that ought to be last choice on this issue – the act denies environmental considerations in zoning decisions. Further, despite being warned of health impacts, Markey continues to advance wireless broadband funding which omits safer wired options. Markey continues to state he was proud to foster competition by breaking up the public telephone system. In fact, telecommunications is a ruthless, barely regulated monopoly – barely competitive and so consumers have few options and little standing.Markey’s support of the “free market” in these industries raises questions about his bonafides as a left-wing progressive. His neglect of wireless concerns is shamefully negligent. Perhaps Markey’s part in the Green New Deal rests on the odd inclusion of smart technology or the wireless smart grid, a Trojan Horse.
During debate, Kennedy has criticized Markey’s support for the Telecommunications Act of 1996, though not on the basis of health but rather on the basis of how it benefits industry and monopoly at the expense of the public. Kennedy did sign onto a letter that opposes the rapidly changing rules of the FCC, as these new rules fail to give municipalities time to adapt ordinances or give much time to examine 5G permit applications. However, this letter is only a political statement that sidesteps or fails to specifically address public health impacts. Asking for extra time for permit review does little to stop the cellular infrastructure in our front yards. In contrast, both federal Rep. Neal and Rep. McGovern have signed on to legislation protecting local zoning control. Legislation to change the act, rather than words, would be welcome.
Kennedy has put forward some legislation that indicates he is not an industry stooge, but generally in other arenas such as human rights, such as a LGBTQ protections (which Markey has also supported) or the right to a lawyer in civil suits or the right to health coverage during the pandemic. Both share environmental concerns and have signed onto net neutrality or other popular laws.
Kennedy has also put forward legislation that supported innovative technologies, an idea that seems to be popular among politicians and is marketed as good for business, jobs, even national defense. His bill emphasized providing support for smaller businesses, as opposed to monopolies. However, less innovation and a lot more safety testing in advance of entering the consumer market would be welcome. Yet, supporting small business is far better than supporting monopoly. Currently, monopolies are making or defying laws, which small business is less likely to do.
In terms of character, before running for office, Kennedy worked as a lawyer and a colleague reports Kennedy showed a rare generosity and respect for truth.
One clear difference is that Kennedy is against the filibuster as he says it prevents votes on controversial legislation, whereas Markey has not supported direct action to end the filibuster. When votes are not cast, legislators can avoid voting showing where they stand.
Kennedy’s reason to run: Clearly, Kennedy benefits by running now, instead of in a crowded field after Markey quits.
Secondly, Kennedy states that Markey has failed to stump for Democrats in other states, and that Kennedy would because now, more than ever, removing Republicans from office is the most important objective. He wants a better world for his young children, such as in terms of the environment. He disputes Markey’s left-wing credentials due to Markey’s part in the Telecommunications Act of 1997 – alluding to monopolies created by the act.
Here are our findings after checking submitted legislation, scorecards, and votes:
- External scorecards: Markey and Kennedy had basically the same scores on all scorecards we checked (see our list below).
- General Voting Records: Kennedy has been a yes vote for many bills promoted by the current Democratically-controlled House. He is a so-called moderate as identified by GovTrackUS. He cosponsored the Right to Organize Act and Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019.
- General Voting Records: Markey has voted yes on very little put forward by the Republican-controlled Senate. He has voted yes on popular bills such as opioid relief and put forward bills to restrict data collection, prevent ionizing radiation exposure, and improve fuel efficiency. Markey is identified as a so-called liberal by GovTrackUS. Left-wing groups have rallied behind Markey.
- Follow the Money dot Org Comparison: For 2020 as of April 27, both share Dell Technologies donations (10K – Markey, 9K – Kennedy). Follow the Money has more data, but it is best to look at the site itself. Historically, Markey has received a great deal of money and support from the telecommunications industry.
- Supporters: Markey’s support includes Sen. Warren, Rep. Alexandra Ocasia-Cortez and Rep. Ro Khanna, Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign co-chair, Rep. Neal, Rep. McGovern, and many others. Kennedy’s support includes Longshoremen (who, by the way, are threatened by job loss from 5G); recently Tom Steyer; members of the Hispanic caucus; the late Rep. John Lewis and local African-American political leaders, from City Councilor Malo Brown to Rep. Chynah Tyler. Unexpectedly, Pelosi has come out in support of Kennedy, saying Markey has been a “rat” for using Kennedy’s name against him, although speculation also includes Pelosi appreciates Kennedy’s work gathering donors & campaigning for Democrats. However, Pelosi may also be supporting Kennedy since Markey’s use of Kennedy’s name is rather cruel, especially considering the fall-out between his parents following divorce.
- Kennedy’s Technology Stance, Funding, & Influence:
- Recently, Kennedy has put forward bills designed to increase worker protections, which may be one reason for Longshoremen endorsement.
- Some relevant sponsorship and voting record information:
- Kennedy put forward a utility bill to allow impacted parties a hearing, since inaction by FERC currently limits access.
- Kennedy voted against HR 1431, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2017, which was designed to limit industry influence and also increase transparency of EPA officials. This bill passed the House but the votes were tight. Why did he vote against this bill?
- Supporting HR. 2996 in 2014 to advance with financial & educational support domestic “manufacturing, innovation and technology” connected to small- and medium-sized enterprises advancing new processes and technologies
- With 197 other sponsors, Kennedy cosponsored HR 1644 in 2019 to support an open internet, to prevent internet providers from blocking or slowing website content. The open internet is widely and popularly supported, but opposed by some financial interests.
- Other bills that Rep. Joe Kennedy has been a early co-sponsor or major sponsor include:
- Allow graduate stipends or monies to be placed in individual retirement accounts (introduced every session)
- To limit discriminatory practices, such as against LGBTQ, claimed protected by religious freedoms
- Study of best practices in prevention of opioid and heroin addiction along with education and database (2015)
- Publicity to promote pro bono legal services with regard to domestic abuse
- Kennedy is currently member of a utility committee.
- Childhood & Bio: Although Kennedy is a Kennedy, his parents divorced and he was raised largely by his mother who publicly fought annullment and won, destroying her ex’s career. Before running for office, Kennedy worked as a lawyer and has been given positive ratings for using his name to advance justice for the powerless.
- Fortune: Kennedy has a fortune to inherit – reported online as circa 50 million. Forbes reports the estimated net worth of the Kennedy family is reported as 1.2 billion. The wealth has been maintained with an array of trusts and investments. One would expect this would be a blind trust, but this is a family trust currently outside Kennedy’s control. Recently, the trust divested from fossil fuels. Kennedy has said that these investments have never influenced his votes.
- Top contributors to Kennedy include individuals at these relevant telecommunication companies:
- Google Inc. (25K) – Google is involved in wireless network development – see WSJ 24 May 2013 – and its services like Stadia (gaming) will benefit from 5G.
- Bain Capital (16K – this company has substantial technology investments)
- Citizens Energy Corporation – relative Joe Kennedy is an executive of this company which develops high-voltage lines, invests in the micro-grid, is involved in solar, Vineyard Winds, and on a positive note highlights charitable work to provide energy for the poor from its profits – the CEO, Augsburger, is also board member of Roan Resources, a gas and oil exploration group. Wireless is presently being used as part of the microgrid. Also, high-voltage lines give off electromagnetic fields. For these reasons there may be a financial disincentive on the part of CEC to fully examine health effects from wireless to electricity. There is no way to know whether this would influence Kennedy’s decisions.
- Joe Kennedy did not receive contributions from another high-profile relative, Robert F. Kennedy, who supports vaccine rights and who is opposed to wireless exposures. In a recent article, Robert F. Kennedy mentions his nephew Joe Kennedy, who is accused by Dr. Shiva of raising money for Joe Kennedy. There is no way of knowing the reason for the lack of donation directly from Robert Kennedy which could be:
- because Joe objects to Robert’s vaccine concerns,
- simply not showing up yet in the records,
- unwillingness to admit support for such hot topics,
- differences of opinion,
- Joe Kennedy simply choosing not to ask.
- Markey’s Technology Stance, Funding, & Influence:
- Markey holds a position on the telecommunications committee, and thus may have some greater influence on the subject for better or worse.
- Markey is still proud of his authorship of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That bill has been critiqued not only because of 47 U.S.C. Section 704, which limits local zoning rights of cell towers and denies consideration of environmental impacts ([in (b)(iv)], but also for consolidation of media. An April 2020 article in the Commonwealth Journal states Markey had noted the consolidation problem recently – yet his campaign page still reviews the act positively.
- In May 2020, Markey advanced school wireless broadband funding but did not include funding for wired broadband. He touts integration of his proposal into the Moving Forward Act, which passed the house with a provision to provide WiFi on school buses, including children enrolled in early education programs (Sec. 31341. E-rate support for school bus Wi-Fi).
- The Green New Deal is popular for advancing a symbolic commitment to alternative energy and decent jobs, but it promotes smart meters which are wireless and are a Trojan Horse. The meters require massive infrastructure which make additional energy demands. The Green New Deal fails to be critical of technologies like smart meters which contribute to surveillance, automation, and resource consumption.
- Markey has been informed of wireless health risks: Markey responded positively to a letter on wireless concerns sent by myself, co-chair Kirstin Beatty. This was the second carefully-written letter I had sent Markey, not to mention a generic open letter sent to him and other state officials. I had just handed Markey and many others printables at the Springfield Democratic Convention, and had spoken with one of the leaders about problems of integrating the smart grid with the Green New Deal – that leader assured me that he would speak with Markey and others about this during the convention’s Green New Deal meeting. This man was very sincere. Not long afterwards, Markey sent a letter in response to my previous letter on wireless concerns. Markey’s response sent on Sept. 18, 2019, says: “…we must balance this need [for tech] with important health considerations.”
- On the negative side, Markey joined colleagues in asking the FCC to allow use of public school E-rate funding for students to use wireless technology from home during the Covid19 pandemic. On the face of it the request appears reasonable, but this request shows that Markey does not fully appreciate or understand wireless health threats. Joe Kennedy was not a signatory, although Senator Elizabeth Warren’s name and others such as Senator Kamala Harris were included.
- In a recent June 2020 tech interview, Markey has a wait and see approach about 5G and discusses providing 4 billion extra to fund school broadband during Covid19 through the E-rate program. Not once did Markey discuss the problems of health impacts or monopoly. Nor did Markey address FCC requirements that E-rate funds be used only for wireless connections.
- Markey recently introduced a bill (S. 2748) that would reduce wireless power levels by restricting use of public safety frequencies to public safety uses – this restriction would limit public use and thus limit power levels.
- Markey has supported bills designed to reduce IT hacking and security threats – this is a reasonable position. He has critiqued industry for only informing shareholders and not consumers of driverless car risks.
- Markey’s sponsorships and statements show he is a champion of privacy, which is a component of liberty, and he has introduced bills to protect children’s privacy as well as open internet or community television (S. 3218), avenues of free speech – this has meant holding stances counter to industry. Kennedy also signed onto the community television bill as a cosponsor.
- The Markey Committee has received tons of cash. Granite Telecommunications leaders is listed as a top funder. Interestingly enough, Granite is focused on analog telephone line billing – which is not a wireless focus. Granite may be well positioned to deal with an economy that reverses wireless dependence. Blackstone Group, a private equity group, is also a top donor and one of its investments is in smart homes via Vivint – smart homes depend on wireless.