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Two Kennedy children oppose re-election of progressive L.A. prosecutor

Max Kennedy and Rory Kennedy, son and daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, endorsed the candidate challenging District Attorney George Gascón in Los Angeles.
Robert Kennedy
Robert Kennedy at an election rally in 1968.Harry Benson / Express/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Two adult children of Robert F. Kennedy endorsed the candidate challenging Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón on Tuesday.

Rory and Max Kennedy made their endorsement Tuesday morning outside the Hall of Justice.

The two children of Kennedy, who was assassinated here in 1968 while campaigning as a presidential candidate, said they opposed Gascón’s re-election because of what they say is his failure to support the families of crime victims. 

“He is not qualified to be the district attorney,” Rory Kennedy.

They cited Gascón’s policy of prohibiting prosecutors from attending hearings for parole-eligible inmates serving life terms, including Kennedy’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, 79.

Max Kennedy and his sister Rory Kennedy, who had not been born when Robert Kennedy was murdered in the former Ambassador Hotel, said that they had lost confidence in Gascón and will endorse challenger Nathan Hochman, a former assistant U.S. attorney, in the November election for district attorney.

The Kennedys said they’ve never before opposed a Democrat running for office.

Gascón's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It was not immediately clear how heir announcement may affect the case of Sirhan who was found eligible for parole in 2022 before California Gov. Gavin Newsom intervened and reversed the decision. In 2023, a separate parole panel ruled that Sirhan was not eligible for parole.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office did not send a prosecutor to appear at Sirhan’s 2022 and 2023 parole hearings. Under a policy instituted by Gascón in 2020, the office stopped sending prosecutors to hearings for parole-eligible inmates serving life terms.

After prosecutors did not go to a 2021 parole hearing for Charles Manson follower Bruce Davis, a spokesperson said Gascón believed that state parole officials, not prosecutors, were best equipped to make judgments about whether to release inmates. Manson, a cult leader, was sentenced to death in 1971 for directing the brutal murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six other people in Los Angeles.

“The prosecutors’ role ends at sentencing,” the spokesperson said. “There’s been a tug of war between public safety versus equity. The DA believes you can do both.”

When Sirhan became parole eligible in 2021, seven members of the Kennedy family issued a statement saying that Sirhan “continues to deflect blame for his crime through 16 parole hearings.” They called the murder of Robert Kennedy one of history’s most infamous crimes. 

The Kennedy family members said that a key factor in showing that a defendant is no longer dangerous is his acknowledgment of the gravity of his offense, acceptance of responsibility for his, and a display of genuine remorse and reform.

“Parole is available for a reformed inmate, but not for a prisoner who currently poses a threat to public safety,” they wrote.