Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a formerly well-respected environmental activist who has, in recent years, begun making a variety of extremely dubious claims about vaccines, and working hard to influence public vaccine policy through both lobbying and lawsuits. Jessica Biel is an actress married to another famous person, whom we last wrote about because she had a restaurant. In an interesting indicator of the times in which we live, Kennedy and Biel were photographed yesterday at the California State Assembly, where they appear to have been lobbying lawmakers together. Afterwards, Kennedy posted a series of Instagram photos praising Biel as “brave.”
Kennedy is the founder of Children’s Health Defense, a group which began its life as the World Mercury Project and which presents itself as an environmental organization. One of the busiest arms of Children’s Health Defense focuses on making claims that vaccines are unsafe, insufficiently tested or contain toxic levels of mercury. Kennedy was recently one of the listed attorneys for a group of anonymous Brooklyn parents who sued over a mandatory vaccination order in Williamsburg, meant to combat a serious measles outbreak there.
To further this political agenda, Kennedy Jr. has also been focused on combating legislation in California authored by state senator and pediatrician Dr. Richard Pan, which aims to increase the oversight of medical exemptions, a doctor’s note that allows parents to keep their children from having to be vaccinated. Pan and his co-sponsor in the State Assembly, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, allege that “a handful of doctors in the state” are abusing the medical exemption process and selling exemptions to parents who don’t have an actual medical reason for not vaccinating their kids. California’s vaccination rate has dipped for the second straight year, and there’s persuasive evidence that parents who were previously applying for personal belief exemptions — exemptions that were written out of the law in 2015— are now applying for medical exemptions instead.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., predictably, opposes the proposed bill increasing the oversight on medical exemptions.
But does Jessica Biel? We’d love to tell you, however, her PR representatives haven’t yet returned several emails and phone calls seeking comment, and she hasn’t made any public statements. She did, however, appear in a series of photographs that Kennedy posted on his Instagram and Twitter, which really do appear to show them talking to lawmakers together on June 11 at the California State Assembly and State Senate.
“Please say thank you to the courageous @jessicabiel for a busy and productive day at the California State House,” Kennedy wrote.
Biel sometimes discusses environmental causes on social media, but she’s never made any kind of public statement about vaccines. A unconfirmed story from an anonymous source in In Touch in 2015 alleged that she and husband Justin Timberlake weren’t vaccinating their son because “she feels vaccinating could cause complications.”
We’ve contacted representatives for Biel and Children’s Health Defense for comment and will update should we hear back.
Update, 3:00 P.M.:
While we’ve yet to hear from Biel or Kennedy’s representatives, social media posts from several legislators indicate that Biel was speaking to them in order to oppose SB 276, the bill tightening the medical exemption process. The posts also indicate that those Assembly members and state senators were excited to pose next to her.