The new educational institute named for the late senator Edward M. Kennedy said Tuesday that it has added the first senators and first Republicans to its board, additions that could help calm some tensions within the famous family.
Trent Lott, the Missisippi Republican and former Senate majority leader, has joined the board of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, along with Tom Daschle, a Democrat and former Senate majority leader from South Dakota; Ralph C. Martin II, a Republican and former Suffolk county district attorney; and Stephanie Cutter, a Democratic strategist from Massachusetts who was most recently President Obama’s deputy campaign manager.
The addition of the new board members comes after reports that some of Kennedy’s children were upset over the lack of any figures with national stature, prominent Republicans, or even a US senator involved in the governance of the $71 million institute on Columbia Point in Dorchester.
Edward M. Kennedy Jr. and Patrick Kennedy, the senator’s children, were concerned that their father’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, was relying too heavily on a small clique of the senator’s friends and supporters, and potentially bungling the effort to create what their father had hoped would be a monument to his storied career in the Senate.
In a statement, the institute praised the new board members’ experience.
“Senator Daschle and Senator Lott led the Senate through historic debates which had lasting and real impacts on American life,” Lee Fentress, the chair of the board, said in the statement. “Their counsel to the institute will be invaluable.”
Daschle, who was a senator from 1987 to 2005, called it an honor to work on the institute named for his friend.
“There is no organization like the institute, dedicated to helping the public truly understand the role of the Senate in our government,” Daschle said.
Lott, who served in the Senate from 1989 to 2005, echoed the sentiment.
“The institute will help students, teachers and the public to learn more about their government and how just how the work being done in Washington, DC is pivotal to our working democracy,” he said.