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Paul Kirk, Massachusetts' Interim U.S. Senator

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The U.S. Senate vacancy created by the death of liberal lion Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) is prompting another trip through the revolving door of political influence for longtime Kennedy ally Paul G. Kirk, Jr.


Kirk was an aide to Kennedy from 1969 until 1977. He subsequently went on to join the law firm Sullivan & Worcester, where he has worked as a partner and retired partner ever since. During 1998 and 1999, Kirk was also a registered lobbyist for Sullivan & Worcester, representing pharmaceutical companies Hoechst and Aventis.


From 1983 until 1989, Kirk also took a leadership role in the Democratic National Committee. He served as the chairman of the DNC from 1985 until shortly after fellow Massachusetts Democrat Michael Dukakis lost the 1988 presidential election to Republican George H.W. Bush. Previously, Kirk had served as the DNC's treasurer.


Kirk and his wife, Gail, have also contributed heavily to Democratic candidates and organizations. Since 1989, they have given $65,325 to federal candidates, parties and committees, the Center for Responsive Politics has found. Of this sum, 98 percent went to Democrats and the rest flowed to the political action committee of Sullivan & Worcester.


Moreover, roughly one in every five dollars they donated went to Kennedy. And nearly one-third of their contributions benefited someone in the Kennedy political clan.


Since 1994, the Kirks donated $13,900 to former Sen. Kennedy. In that same time, Paul Kirk also donated $6,000 to Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), Kennedy's son. And during the 2002 election cycle, Kirk contributed $800 to the congressional campaign of Mark Kennedy Shriver, a nephew of Edward Kennedy and son of Eunice Mary Kennedy Shriver. That cycle, Mark Kennedy Shriver lost a Democratic primary to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) by three percentage points.


Of the Kirks' overall contributions, $5,500 has been in Gail's name, with the occupation "homemaker" listed on her filings with the Federal Election Commission; the remainder of them have been in Paul's name. Five thousand dollars of her donations went to Edward Kennedy, and $500 went to Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000.


Other top beneficiaries of Kirk's contributions include:


* Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), to whom he gave $6,250 since 1990;

* President Barack Obama, to whom he contributed the legal maximum of $4,600 in 2008;

* Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), to whom he contributed the legal maximum of $4,200 in 2006; and

* $4,000 to the Democratic National Committee, to which he gave $4,000 between the 1990 and 1992 election cycles.


Massachusetts law required that Kennedy's Senate seat be filled by a special election. On Wednesday, the Massachusetts legislature approved a bill that would allow the governor to name an interim replacement. Kirk will serve temporarily in the U.S. Senate until a special election is held on January 19.


Kirk, who is 71, has said he will not run in that election.


Over the years, Kirk has also served on numerous boards. Since 1997, he has served on the board of the insurance and investment firm, the Hartford Financial Services Group. He also serves on the board of Cedar Shopping Centers and Rayonier Inc., a timber and real estate company. He formerly was a board member of ITT Corporation and Bradley Real Estate. He also co-founded the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has sponsored presidential debates since 1988. He is also the chairman of the board of directors of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation.


Earlier today, Kirk said that he would resign from all boards on which he still serves.

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