Kennedy Wife Attended Tulane on Legislative Scholarships
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The woman who became Sen. Edward Kennedy’s second wife and her five siblings were among the biggest beneficiaries of a legislative scholarship program that was the center of a scandal two years ago, The Times-Picayune reported.
Victoria Reggie, who married Kennedy in 1992, attended Tulane University’s Newcomb College and Tulane Law School free of charge, courtesy of a legislator who grew up with her father, Edmund Reggie.
In all, the Reggie children got a total of 27 years’ worth of free tuition at Tulane, the newspaper reported Sunday. A nephew of Edmund Reggie got another seven years’ tuition.
The tuition waivers were made by the late Rep. John N. John, who gave all the scholarships at his disposal to Reggie’s family.
Edmund Reggie, a longtime friend of Gov. Edwin Edwards and a former city judge, said he had done nothing wrong.
``It was a perfectly legal thing to do, so I availed myself of it,″ he said.
The Tulane scholarships, previously known mostly to political insiders, made headlines in 1993 when then-Mayor Sidney Barthelemy awarded a four-year scholarship to his own son.
After public criticism, he withdrew his son’s scholarship and set up a system to ensure that needy students get the assistance.
Later in 1993, the state ethics board ruled that lawmakers may not award tuition waivers to their own or other legislators’ children.
The newspaper went to court to get Tulane’s records on the scholarships, whose other beneficiaries have included the children of Sens. John Breaux and J. Bennett Johnston and Reps. Bob Livingston, Jimmy Hayes and Richard Baker.
The scholarships date back to 1884 when the Legislature turned the public University of Louisiana into the private Tulane University, and exempted the school from more than $5 million in taxes annually. In return, every year each legislator gets a one-year scholarship to award to a Louisiana resident.
All recipients are now disclosed and lawmakers can ask Tulane to choose recipients from a pool of needy applicants.
The scholarships cost about $2.6 million a year and the school saves an additional $1 million in taxes, university officials said. Current annual tuition is just under $19,000.