Monday, January 05, 2009


Caroline Kennedy, who has lived in privilege all of her life, apparently worked at the city DOE under rules that were applicable to no one else. As the NY Times reported yesterday: "Like it or not, roughly 7,000 employees of New York City file 32-page disclosure forms each year divulging personal information about their family finances in an effort to bolster confidence in open government. But when Caroline Kennedy was employed by the city Department of Education from 2002 to 2004, as the chief executive of the Office of Strategic Partnerships, she was not required to file, even though two people who worked for her had to disclose information about their finances."

And so now, it is hardly shocking that she would seek a US Senate spot by designation, instead of holding herself out to the voters sometimes harsh scrutiny. In defending her exemption from the city's disclosure rules, the Princess wants to have it both ways: "City officials have offered a variety of explanations over the last few weeks why Ms. Kennedy did not have to meet this filing requirement despite her title and the responsibilities she has cited in her efforts to convince the public that she has the experience to take Hillary Rodham Clinton’s seat in the Senate. City officials have most often pointed to Ms. Kennedy’s decision to accept $1-a-year in salary. More recently, Joel I. Klein, chancellor of New York’s schools, explained that she was ultimately exempt from the requirement because the department did not deem her to be a “policymaker.”

If her work was significant, than she should have been subject to the same rules that apply to others less regal: "Until 2004, public servants were generally required to file disclosure forms if they were officers or directors of agencies or if their salaries indicated high-level responsibility. That year, the city was able to shrink the rolls of those required to file by scrapping the salary test, and instead declaring that anyone holding a policymaking position had to file, regardless of income."

So what will it be? Was Caroline merely a meaningless volunteer, whose job was little more than society busy work? Or was she a real policy maker-in which case she should have been disclosing her resources just as even the billionaire mayor must do. In our view, the DOE''s decision to exempt Kennedy was the right one-it accurately reflected her role; and to aggrandize it ex post fact simply doesn't pass anyone's smell test.

Let Kennedy run on her own merits in 2010. Whoever Governor Paterson selects will be a short termer, and the Kennedy mystique will be a formidable factor in any Democratic primary. Our view is that CK is much like Gertrude Stein's Oakland: "There's not much there, there."