Saturday, September 5, 2009

Joseph Kennedy, Social Enterprise, and Executive Compensation

A New York Times article reports intense speculation over whether Joseph Kennedy, former congressman from Massachusetts and son of Robert F. Kennedy, will run for his uncle Teddy's seat in the United States Senate.  The article mentions in passing that Joseph has run a nonprofit organization, Citizens Energy Corporation, since leaving office.  I would wager that the history and current activities of Citizens will become a campaign issue if Joseph declares for the Senate. 

Citizens was a hybrid social enterprise before the lingo existed to describe it.  When I first encountered it in Boston in the late 1980s, it was clear that its mission was mixed.  It ran programs to furnish low-cost heating oil to low and middle income families in Massachusetts, but it was housed in fancy corporate office space, paid salaries competitive with the private sector, and was heavily involved in what sounded to me like for-profit oil trading.  Indeed, the Times article mentions that Joseph's annual salary is upwards of half a million dollars. Surely his political opponents will pounce on that.


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