Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Super Bowl ad may have reached millions of Americans, but it also reached his family—who weren’t too jazzed to have their images leveraged as fodder for his dimming bid for the White House.
During Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday, a super PAC supporting the independent candidate aired a familiar commercial: a 1960 John F. Kennedy campaign ad. Except the face behind the iconic “Kennedy for Me” jingle wasn’t JFK. Instead, it was his vaccine-rejecting, conspiracy-touting nephew, RFK Jr., hocking his dead uncle’s legacy and riding on the family name for 30 seconds of fame.
“My cousin’s Super Bowl ad used our uncle’s faces—and my Mother’s,” wrote Bobby Shriver, referring to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, in a statement that his brother signed off on. “She would be appalled by his deadly health care views. Respect for science, vaccines, & health care equity were in her DNA.”
“She strongly supported my health care work at @ONECampaign & @RED which he opposes,” Shriver added, referring to the nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations dedicated to the end of extreme poverty and finding a cure for AIDS.
RFK Jr., meanwhile, chalked the mishap up to a genuine mistake, claiming he wasn’t able to sign off on the ad due to Federal Election Commission rules.
“I’m so sorry if the Super Bowl advertisement caused anyone in my family pain,” RFK Jr. wrote late on Sunday night. “The ad was created and aired by the American Values Super PAC without any involvement or approval from my campaign. FEC rules prohibit Super PACs from consulting with me or my staff. I love you all. God bless you.”
But that might not be all true. Even though federal law technically prohibits super PACs from coordinating with or donating to candidates and their campaigns, there aren’t exactly any super PAC cops preventing them from doing so. The FEC, in practice, remains unable to investigate claims of fraud thanks to extremely limiting parameters that fail as soon as “allied outside groups … simply converse with one another,” according to TNR’s Jason Linkins.
And his sentiment might not be all there, either. At the time of publishing, RFK Jr. still had the ad pinned to the top of his X profile, the platform formerly known as Twitter.