Kennedy children denounce George Gascón’s parole policy, endorse challenger

By Eric Leonard and Andrew Blankstein

NBC LOS ANGELES — Rory and Max Kennedy, a daughter and son of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, announced Tuesday their support for the candidate trying to unseat LA County District Attorney George Gascón over what they say are Gascón’s policies that disregard the needs of crime victims and in particular, bar prosecutors from participating in parole hearings for convicted murderers.

“He is not qualified to be the district attorney,” Rory Kennedy said at a campaign event for Gascón’s challenger, Nathan Hochman, on the steps of the Hall of Justice in Downtown LA.

“Gascon prohibits his prosecutors from filing charges they believe are appropriate,” she said. “He boycotts parole hearings and leaves grieving victims to fend for themselves.”

Robert Kennedy was shot to death at the former Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968 while campaigning as a presidential candidate, and the man convicted of the murder, Sirhan Sirhan, was denied parole 15 times prior to Gascón’s election.

The DA’s office sent a representative to each of those hearings to present an account of the assassination.

The Kennedys said they’ve never before opposed a Democrat running for office but said they were moved to go public following Gascón’s decision not to advocate against the release of their father’s assassin during a 16th parole hearing in 2022.

“I contacted the district attorney’s office, and the attorney, who had been assigned to it, told me she was not allowed to, accompany us,” said Max Kennedy.

The 2022 panel recommended Sirhan’s release, but the decision was reversed by Gov. Newsom. A 2023 parole board, again without participation from the DA’s office under the policy, did not recommend Sirhan’s release.

Gascón’s office and campaign representatives declined to comment on the Kennedys’ statements.

In 2021 Gascón’s spokesperson told NBC News that the DA believed the role of prosecutors ended with the trial and sentencing, and decisions about parole should be made independently by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.