Public campaign finance disclosures from Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign reveal numerous payments to individuals and groups whose ideologies differ significantly from traditional Democratic Party politics, a review by CNN’s KFile finds.
Kennedy’s campaign paid a litany of prominent activists – which includes some anti-vaccine advocates, public health conspiracy theorists and Republicans, either individually or through their businesses – the filings show. One anti-vax activist, whose company was paid by Kennedy, once famously compared vaccine mandates to prosecution of Jews during the Holocaust.
The payments could undermine Kennedy’s Democratic bona fides as he attempts a longshot bid for the 2024 Democratic nomination against President Joe Biden.
Among the expenditures was a payment for $13,550 to a consulting company called KFP Consulting which was registered in May 2023. The company’s managing member, according to incorporation records, is controversial anti-vaccine activist Del Bigtree.
Bigtree, a film producer who also founded the anti-vaccination group Informed Consent Action Network, regularly speaks against vaccination and public health measures. He was condemned by Jewish groups for once comparing vaccination to the persecution of Jews by wearing a Holocaust-era Star of David badge to protest vaccinations. He also spoke against Covid-19 vaccinations at the rally that preceded the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Kennedy’s campaign was roiled in recent days after it was revealed that he suggested Covid-19 could have been genetically engineered to spare Jewish and Chinese people – comments condemned by his own family members, along with top Democratic organizations and the White House.
The Kennedy campaign did not respond to CNN’s comment requests.
Kennedy’s campaign has also paid some activists who promote unfounded public health claims
The Kennedy campaign also paid at least two people employed by Moms Across America, an organization that spreads awareness about GMOs and pesticides in food, and which has promoted the claim that GMOs are linked to autism – a claim the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says is false. Anne Temple, a graphic designer, and the group’s founder Zen Honeycutt – who Kennedy called a “modern day Rachel Carson” – both received payments from the campaign. Carson, a marine biologist and nature writer, wrote the influential environmental conservationist book “Silent Spring” in 1962, which documented the harm of the pesticides on the environment.
Other individuals paid by Kennedy’s campaign include a film editor who worked on anti-vax films; a woman who works as a coach to help parents “unschool their children” from traditional in-person schools amidst the coronavirus pandemic; a self-declared autism advocate who has falsely linked vaccines to autism; and an artist and content creator who has a podcast that frequently discusses aliens and founded a Clubhouse channel where users ruminate on “aliens, demons, and witchcraft,” vaccine conspiracies, reptilian humanoids, and artificial intelligence.
As Kennedy continues to seek the Democratic nomination, his campaign has also paid Republicans. F Street Partners, a GOP fundraising firm, was paid $5,000 in April for direct mail services, according to the filing. F Street Partners is run by a former Republican candidate for office in Virginia and aims to help “conservative and right of center organizations” deal with new challenges they are facing from “de-platforming to censorship,” according to their website.
It also paid approximately $10,457 to Republican Helen Brady, who lost a bid for a congressional seat in Massachusetts’ 9th congressional district in 2020, and approximately $11,036 in salary to Robert Lucero, who ran as a Republican in California’s Senate “top two” primary in 2022 but lost.