This speech was given on March 5, 2023, during a Hillsdale College CCA seminar on “Big Pharma.”
by Robert F Kennedy, Jr
Thank you. I’m very, very happy to be here. Can you hear me? If you can’t hear me, raise your hand. I’m really happy to be here. Although I’ve never been here before, it feels like almost like a homecoming because of the incredible role that this institution played during COVID-19, when it was the only college left in the country that really stood up for freedom.
And when this college was established in 1844, abolitionists were despised by the vast majority, 90% of the people in our country hated them and thought they were crazy and that they were unrealistic. And it wasn’t really until three years into the Civil War that it flipped and that the President came out and freed the slaves. And he couldn’t do it because just the public antipathy for abolitionism. So really, this institution has an extraordinary history, and it’s been very, very faithful to the values upon which it was established, which is love of freedom, no matter what public opinion, no matter what the public cost, no matter who pressures you to stop, but to stand up for it. And it’s really a testimony to something special and the investment that has been made here, not in building a pile, teaching students to build a pile for themselves like most colleges and whoever dies with the most stuff wins, but instead building character and demonstrating character. And thank you.
Somebody last night asked me about how I got into the “anti-vax racket,” and which I’m not anti-vaccine, although I’m kind of the poster child for the anti-vax movement, but I’ve been an environmental attorney for now 40 years. Up until 2005, that’s all I did. And then that year I ran a group called Hudson River Keeper, which I represented for 40 years commercial fishermen on the Hudson and recreational fishermen, suing polluters who were destroying their livelihoods, their property values, their communities. And they had a business model. We have the oldest commercial fishery in the country on the Hudson. The people I represented for 40 years many of them came from families that have been fishing the river continuously since Dutch Colonial times, it’s traditional gear fishery. They used the same fishing methods that were taught by the Algonquin Indians, original Dutch settlers from New Amsterdam, and then passed down through the generations.
And they had a business model that worked for three centuries. And then they were put out of business by polluters who had political clout and who were able to manipulate government agencies, capture and manipulate government agencies, in order to escape the discipline of the free market and force the public to pay their production costs. And they had turned the Hudson Valley into kind of a not free market capitalism, but corporate crony capitalism and this corporate kleptocracy, which really is about socialism for the rich, and a very savage and brutal and merciless brand of capitalism for the poor.
And they saw this happening, and I fought for them for 40 years, but in 2000, but we were successful. I brought over 300 successful lawsuits on the Hudson. By the year 2000, we had forced polluters to spend three and a half billion dollars remediating the river. The river, when I started working there, caught fire. It turned colors, depending on what color they were painting the trucks at the GM plant in Tarrytown. It was dead water, zero dissolved oxygen for 20 miles north of the city, 20 miles south.
Today, it is an international model for ecosystem protection. It’s the richest waterway in the North Atlantic. It produces more pounds of fish acre, more biomass per gallon than any other waterway in the Atlantic Ocean north of the equator. It’s the last major river system left in Atlantic that still has strong spawning stocks of all of its historical species of migratory fish. And the miraculous resurrection of the Hudson inspired river keepers on waterways all over the world. We became the biggest water protection group in the world. We have 350 water keepers. Each one has a patrol boat. They each patrol a local waterway and they litigate against polluters. And we’re a law enforcement organization. We have great environmental laws, but because of agency capture, they’re almost never enforced. But we’re allowed to enforce them under a provision called the Citizen Supervision.
In 2003, the National Academy of Sciences published a report that showed that every freshwater fish in North America, 10 year study, was contaminated with dangerous levels of mercury. And so the water keepers, who represent fishermen were particularly, this seemed to us like we were living in a science fiction nightmare. Where my children, the children of every other American, could now no longer engage in the seminal primal activity of American youth, which is to go fishing in the local waterway and then come home and safely eat the fish. And those companies had privatized the public commons, a resource that is owned by the public, to make profits for themselves. They had privatized. We no longer owned the fish. The companies who are doing that polluter, which is coal burning power plants and cement kilns primarily.
So in 2005, we started suing them. A lot of people were suing coal plants, but we were suing them, the water keepers were suing them, on mercury. And I had 40 suits going by 2005. And I was traveling all around the country talking to crowds like this about mercury. And at almost every speech I gave, these groups of women, and they were different at every place, would come and sit in the front row. They’d show up early. And then when I finished, they’d wait and they’d ask to talk to me. And as it turns out, they were all of them were the mothers of intellectually disabled children. And they all believed that the vaccines had caused their child’s injury, particularly mercury vaccines.
And they would say to me, in a very respectful, but also kind of vaguely scolding way, “If you’re really interested in mercury exposures to children, you need to look at vaccines.” I didn’t want to do it. I had spent a lot of my life working on the issues of intellectual disabilities. It was part of the DNA of my family. My Aunt Eunice, who was also my godmother, started Special Olympics. I had been working in Special Olympics, it was then called Camp Shriver, since I was eight years old, every weekend as a hugger, as a coach. I spent 200 hours as a teenager in high school working in Wassaic Home for the Retarded. My family, my uncle was chair of the health committee for 50 years. My family wrote a lot of the legislation that gave rights and changed the entire relationship with individuals with intellectual disabilities, the most vulnerable population in the country. But I didn’t want to do that for my life. I wanted to work on fisheries, on water pollution, on energy.
And so I was dodging these ladies. And then one of them them came to my house, found my house on Cape Cod, in the summer of 2005. She was a psychologist from Minnesota named Sarah Bridges. She had a son who got severe autism from a mercury vaccine. He had gotten a $20 million award from the vaccine court, which recognized his autism came from the vaccine, there was no controversy, and she didn’t want it to happen to other children. And she showed up at my house and she took out of the trunk of her car a stack of studies about 18 inches deep. She put it on my front stoop and she knocked on the door. And when I came to the door, she pointed to the pile and she said, “I’m not leaving here until you read those.”
And I’m accustomed to reading science. I wanted to be a scientist when I was a kid. And the kind of law that I practice involves a lot of science. So almost every suit that I brought has involved some kind of scientific controversy. And I would not be very good at my job if I didn’t enjoy reading science and if I could not read it critically. And so I sat down, and I didn’t read the studies, but I read the abstracts. And I got about six inches down on that pile and I was just dumbstruck by this huge delta between what the public health agencies were saying the science said, and what the actual peer-reviewed published science was saying. And I started after that doing what I always did when I didn’t understand something. Because of my name and my family’s relationships with these agencies, I could always get the head of an agency on a phone very quickly. And I started calling them and asking questions. I got Francis Collins from NIH and Kathleen Stratton and Marie McCormick from Institute of Medicine.
And they told me something weird. I asked them about science, and I realized they were completely not conversant with it. They were just parroting this phrase, “safe and effective.” They hadn’t read any of the actual science. And when I asked them about details, they said, “You have to talk to Paul Offit.” Well, Paul Offit is a vaccine developer who’s a partner of Merck’s. And I had been working with EPA for many years, about probably 20% of my lawsuits were against EPA, which is a captive agency, captive by the oil and chemical and pesticide industries. And EPA, if I call a science guy or a regulator there, they’re going to have some self-respect and they’re going to try to answer my question. They’re not going to direct me to a coal industry lobbyist.
So this was bizarre. And then when I talked to Paul Offit, I caught him in a lie, which I’m not going to go into. I’d love to go into it but I need to conserve my time here, so take my word for it. But he knew I caught him in a lie. I knew. And there was that moment where we were like, “You are just a liar.” And so then I realized, “Okay, these guys either don’t know what they’re doing or they’re lying about it deliberately.” And then I realized these agencies were completely captured, but a agency captured on the steroids. FDA gets more than 50% of its budget from the pharmaceutical companies. CDC has a $12 billion budget and 5 billion of that, so almost half, goes to buying vaccines from these companies and then distribute them.
So if you work at CDC, you do not get promotions by finding problems with vaccines. You get promoted by increasing uptake. And the NIH is just an incubator for pharmaceutical products. So it develops the vaccines, hands them over to the industry, hands them over to the universities, which then get NIH money, $200, $300 million, to do phase one and phase two trials. Then if those are successful, which they always are because they make them successful, they then call in the pharmaceutical company to do a phase three. And then they all divide up the royalty, the patent merchant rights, and then Tony Fauci is the head of NIH, walks it through the regulatory process at FDA and CDC where he’s picked the members of the panels who are all taking money from him. And they know their product is next in line and their job is to rubber stamp this product and recommend it to children.
So I saw this process and how it worked and it was regulatory capture on steroids. And then NIH gets the money. I got de-platformed for saying, “NIH owns half the Moderna vaccine. They said, “That’s vaccine misinformation.” Well, guess what? On Thursday this week, Moderna made a $400 million payment to NIH for it’s share of the royalties to date. So all of my conspiracy theories have about a three month shelf life before they become reality!