RFK Jr’s environmental colleagues beg him to drop presidential campaign after Kennedy family endorses Biden

The scathing letter refers to Robert F Kennedy Jr as a ‘dangerous conspiracy theorist’ and ‘science denier’

Katie Hawkinson
Friday 19 April 2024 17:46 BST
Related video: Kennedy family endorses Joe Biden for president

Robert F Kennedy Jr’s former environmental colleagues, along with several national organisations, have called for him to drop out of the 2024 presidential race.

Twelve environmental groups published an open letter on Friday calling for Americans to “reject” RFK Jr and “the toxic beliefs he promotes before it’s too late.” The list of co-signers includes the political arm of the Natural Resources Defense Council, where Mr Kennedy used to work as an environmental attorney.

Erich Pica, executive director of the co-signing organisation Friends of the Earth, said it is rare for so many environmental organisations to come together on a specific issue.

“You don't see that many open letters, with that many groups, representing that spectrum of the community, all saying the same thing in unison at the same time,” Mr Pica told The Independent.

Robert F Kennedy, pictured at a campaign event on 13 April, is facing calls from national environmental groups to end his campaign
Robert F Kennedy, pictured at a campaign event on 13 April, is facing calls from national environmental groups to end his campaign (AP)

The scathing letter, published just ahead of Earth Day, calls RFK Jr a “dangerous conspiracy theorist” and “science denier.”

Brett Hartl with the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, one of the co-signing organisations, said RFK Jr is “co-opting” the environmental movement for his own purposes.

“He’s doing a huge disservice to the actual environmental community that works day in and day out to actually protect the environment,” Mr Hartl told The Independent.

RFK Jr has leaned on his work as an environmental attorney throughout his campaign, but has since made enemies in the environmental advocacy community after criticising the Inflation Reduction Act, a landmark piece of climate legislation that funneled billions towards diverse green-energy projects.

In addition to his policies, Mr Hartl said RFK Jr’s controversial opinions about vaccines and the Covid-19 pandemic are concerning.

“You can’t solve the climate crisis by promoting conspiracy theories,” he continued.

The candidate one claimed that imposing vaccine passports were similar to the extermination policies of Nazi Germany in a January 2022 speech. He later apologised for these comments.

Related video: White House condemns RFK Jr’s ‘vile’ antisemitic Covid conspiracy claim

The National Resources Defense Council Action Fund is also funding political advertisements in swing states against the nephew of assassinated president John F Kennedy.

“In nothing more than a vanity candidacy, RFK Jr. has chosen to play the role of election-spoiler to the benefit of Donald Trump – the single worst environmental president our country has ever had,” one advertisement reads.

The open letter comes a day after at least 15 members of Mr Kennedy’s family officially endorsed President Joe Biden.

Kerry Kennedy, sister to RFK Jr, said a vote for Mr Biden would be “a vote for our democracy and our decency”.

“In 2024, there are only two candidates with any chance of winning the presidency,” she said on Thursday. “We want to make crystal clear our feeling that the best way forward for America is to reelect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to four more years.”

Earlier this year, RFK Jr had to apologise to his family after running a campaign advertisement during the Super Bowl that invoked the Kennedys’ political legacy.

“My cousin’s Super Bowl ad used our uncle’s faces – and my mother’s,” Bobby Shriver, another nephew of the former president, wrote on Twitter/X earlier this year. “She would be appalled by his deadly healthcare views. Respect for science, vaccines, and healthcare equity were in her DNA.”

The family’s formal endorsement of the president comes as polling between Mr Biden and Mr Trump tightens.

Some Democrats have warned RFK Jr’s presence in the race could split the vote, making a second term for Mr Biden more difficult to secure. RFK Jr’s campaign threatens to help Mr Trump, Mr Pica told The Independent, which would be a blow to the environmental activist community, given the former president’s denial of climate change.

“His candidacy, if he’s on these ballots, has a real potential to tilt the election to a Trump win, which would be catastrophic,” Mr Pica said.

The Independent has contacted RFK Jr’s campaign for comment.

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