RFK, Jr. Prepares to Take Legal Action After 5th Denial of Secret Service Protection

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has been denied Secret Service protection for a fifth time. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said it is not warranted at this time.


Mayorkas said his decision was based on the recommendation of the advisory committee. Kennedy has been trying for a year to get Secret Service protection. His attorney said the decision is politically motivated

Mr. Kennedy‘s attorney, Aaron Siri, shot back at the letter a day later, saying the repeated denials are “capricious, an abuse of discretion and clearly politically motivated.”

Mr. Siri pointed out that Secret Service protection was first expanded to presidential candidates because of the assassination of Mr. Kennedy‘s father in 1968 while he was running for president. Since then, 32 presidential candidates have received protection, the lawyer wrote.

A congressional advisory committee weighs in on the decision to provide Secret Service protection to presidential candidates. The members of this committee now are House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson.

According to the Secret Service website, candidates can receive protection after they publicly announce their candidacy, face "general or specific threats," and poll at 20% or above in the Real Clear Politics national average for at least a month for independent and third-party candidates. 


Perhaps it is his polling average that is tripping up the decision. He isn't at 20% right now in polling. However, it seems to me that RFK, Jr. is not an ordinary candidate when it comes to measuring potential danger. His family has a long history in politics that includes assassinations. His uncle, President John F. Kennedy, and his father, Robert F. Kennedy, were assassinated. RFK, Jr. has received death threats. One man came to a campaign event carrying two guns and demanding to speak with the candidate.

Siri wrote in his letter to Mayorkas, “Not only have you ignored the obvious threats to the life of the candidate, you have also ignored the assessment of your own Secret Service.”

He suggested that maybe the protection hasn’t been given because Mr. Kennedy‘s candidacy “poses a risk” to Mr. Mayorkas’ job and that of his boss, President Biden.

“Your disregard for the safety of Mr. Kennedy and others in his environment is contemptible,” the lawyer wrote. “Failure to provide him Secret Service protection forthwith lays naked your political motivations and lowers the esteem of our great nation.”

He threatened to hold the secretary personally accountable if anything happens to Mr. Kennedy.

“To be sure, there are things worse than death. Living without integrity is one of them,” Mr. Siri said.


Ironically, it was the assassinations of JFK and RFK that caused the Secret Service to extend protection to presidential candidates. The Homeland Security Secretary also has "broad discretion" in deciding which candidates get the protection.

Siri spelled out that Mayorkas would be held responsible if anything happened to Kennedy or others who may be harmed in an attack. Siri claims Mayorkas is refusing to disclose the names of people the Secret Service has determined to pose a threat to Kennedy. 

"If protection is not afforded, we have been authorized to commence an action on the grounds that the repeated denials have been politically motivated and are otherwise capricious," reads the letter to Mayorkas from Siri, dated one day after Mayorkas' latest denial.

"If any harm befalls Mr. Kennedy or any other member of the public who may be injured or killed in any incident that arises due to lack of Secret Service protection to the candidate and the deterrent it affords, we will seek to hold you accountable.

"Attacks on public figures often result in serious injury and death to bystanders, and we will not hesitate to represent them in an action against you personally for your conduct."


It is hard to not be cynical and think this has a lot to do with politics. Kennedy's candidacy poses a threat to Biden's re-election. Biden and the DNC have done all they can to keep Kennedy off the ballot in November. Kennedy had to become an independent candidate to run against Biden. As I said, his candidacy is a little different than that of others. We aren't talking about Secret Service protection for third-party candidate Cornel West, for example. Let's hope Mayorkas and Biden see clear to agree to Kennedy's request next time around. 

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