Ex-congressman Joe Kennedy praises Hugo Chavez’s charity

Former congressman Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) is mourning the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez today, praising Chavez as someone who made a difference for poor people.

Kennedy told the AP that Chavez helped 2 million Americans through a heating assistance program that the two men worked on together through Kennedy's Citizen's Energy charity. Kennedy said Chavez donated 200 million gallons of heating oil over eight years.

Kennedy also said that "some of the wealthiest people on our planet have more money than they can ever reasonably expect to spend."

Kennedy joins Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) among the few American politicians to praise Chavez after his death Tuesday.

Kennedy's son, newly sworn-in Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), offered a more neutral response to Chavez's passing.

"My thoughts and prayers are with President Chavez's family," the younger Kennedy said in a statement. "In this time of transition, it is my hope that the United States and Venezuela can build a productive relationship for the future.”

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · March 6, 2013