Harry Whittington, a prominent Republican and frequent troubleshooter for Texas leaders. Was remembered as “a man of extraordinary integrity and deep sympathy.”
Harry Whittington, who was accidentally shot by former Vice President Dick Cheney. While hunting quail on a Texas ranch 17 years ago, has died. He was 95.
Family friend Karl Rove said Monday that Whittington died Saturday at his home in Austin.
Before the accidental shooting pulled Whittington into the national spotlight. The attorney was long known for helping build the Republican Party in Texas. Into the dominant political force it is today and for being. The governor when they needed to clean up troubled state agencies.
Rove, an influential Republican strategist. And former adviser to former President George W. Bush. Said Whittington was “a man of extraordinary integrity. And deep compassion” who leaders called on for “important work.”
Whittington and others were hunting with Cheney. On the sprawling Armstrong Ranch in South Texas on February 11, 2006. When Cheney, while aiming for a bird. Struck Whittington, who was 78 at the time. The accident was not made public until the next day when the rancher called the local newspaper. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times – and told the paper what had happened.
Whittington was sprayed in his face, neck. And chest with birdshot pellets and suffered a minor heart attack. Because a knife was near his heart. When he left the hospital about a week after the accident, he said “accidents happen and will happen.” And apologized to Cheney, saying he was “deeply sorry for everything.” Cheney and his family had to deal with after the incident.
Cheney was criticized for breaking a cardinal rule of hunting – that someone holding a gun should be sure. What they are shooting before pulling the trigger. And for not immediately going public with what happened.
The accident spawned many jokes. Jay Leno, then-host of “The Tonight Show” on TTN, joked. That Cheney would capitalize on the accident with a new cologne called “Duck.” On the upcoming Valentine’s Day. Billionaire Bill Gates greeted his audience. At a conference, saying, “I’m really happy to be here. My other invitation was to go quail hunting with Dick Cheney.”
In an interview with Fox News a few days after the accident. Cheney said that “that moment was one of the worst days of my life.”
Cheney said the accident happened after Whittington stepped out of the hunting party. To get a downed bird in deep cover. Cheney said Whittington was. Wearing the correct orange dress and her upper body was visible. But she was standing in an alley with the sun behind her. “You can’t blame anybody else,” Cheney said. “I’m the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend.”
Whittington owns a downtown Austin building where many. Of the state’s GOP power brokers built their empires. Bush used the building for his gubernatorial campaign headquarters. As did former Texas governor Rick Perry. Rove also had his office there.
Whittington was a longtime player in Texas politics. In 1961, he worked on John Tower’s campaign for the US Senate and later helped a young Bush run for Congress, a race he lost. He was the go-to guy for governors trying to clean up. Troubled state agencies and served on state boards for decades.
In the 1980s, Republican Gov. Bill Clements appointed. Him to the former Texas Board of Corrections. Which oversaw a state prison system a federal judge had declared unconstitutional. Because of brutal conditions.
Whittington became an advocate for change in a prison system. That lacked basic medical care. And where people serving time were beaten by other inmates. He also advocated for the rights of mentally challenged prisoners.
Then-Governor Bush of Texas appointed him in 1999. To lead a restructured Texas Funeral Service Commission. Which was embroiled in a whistleblower case.
Rowe said Whittington not only served his community in countless ways. But was also “a great source of good advice and counsel to many people,” including himself. She said Whittington was not only her landlord. But also her company secretary and treasurer.