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Kennedy’s family network gives to his campaign

He also reports business, labor, PAC donations

The $1.3 million raised in the first three months of this year by congressional candidate Joseph P. Kennedy III includes donations from a wide circle of Kennedy family members, friends, and political connections, as well as contributions from labor and business PACs, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Kennedy reported donations from a number of family members, including his father, Joseph Kennedy II, former US representative; Patrick Kennedy, a former Rhode Island congressman, and Ted Kennedy Jr., sons of the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy; Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the senator’s widow; Jean Kennedy Smith, former US ambassador; and Maria Shriver.

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Kennedy reported contributions from about 1,600 donors; more than half are Massachusetts residents, according to the campaign. Bay State residents contributed about $436,000 to Kennedy’s account, about one-third of the amount he raised, the campaign said.

The first-time candidate, running to fill the Fourth District seat opened by the pending retirement of US Representative Barney Frank, has proven an accomplished fund-raiser in his few months on the trail. Kennedy, 31, has quickly established a huge financial advantage over his possible Republican opponent, Sean Bielat, whom Frank defeated in 2010. Bielat raised about $176,000 in the first quarter of 2012, according to reports.

Bielat, who gave the longtime incumbent, Frank, a tough race two years ago, raised most of his money in the first quarter through individual contributions. He also received $10,000 from the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, the political action committee run by the conservative group at the center of the Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 Citizens United ruling, which struck down many restrictions on campaign spending.

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His campaign could not provide a breakdown last night of how much of the money came from within Massachusetts. The campaign said it was likely to have that figure on Tuesday.

Kennedy’s donors also include politicians and Democratic operatives who have forged close relations to the family’s political dynasty, including Chris Dodd, former US senator of Connecticut, and his wife, Jackie. Dodd was among Edward Kennedy’s closest friends in Washington. The younger Kennedy also received donations from Mary Beth Cahill, a former aide to the late senator who directed US Senator John F. Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign; Dick Gephardt, former House majority leader and a political mentor to Patrick Kennedy; Paul Kirk, former US senator and a longtime family friend who was appointed temporarily to the Senate after Edward Kennedy’s death in 2009; and Mindy Myers, a former aide to President Clinton who is now managing the US Senate campaign in Massachusetts for Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

Kennedy received about $99,000 from PACs, accounting for about 7.5 percent of his haul. He received money from PACs representing unions such as the Communications Workers of America, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Teamsters, as well as PACs representing huge companies such as Raytheon and United Parcel Service.

Though far outpaced by Kennedy’s fund-raising, Bielat’s campaign said it is ahead of its money-raising pace from his last race.

“We’re not worried about competing dollar for dollar with the Kennedy political machine,’’ said Bielat spokeswoman Sarah Rumpf. She said the Republican intends to raise enough money to run an effective campaign and get his message to the voters.

Another Republican in the district, Elizabeth Childs of Brookline, raised about $43,000 in the first quarter.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at
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