Harry Whittington, a Texas attorney who was influential over his state’s Republican Party, died at the age of 95 on Saturday, according to family friend Karl Rove.
Whittington was a valuable behind-the-scenes political resource, but he drew national attention after a 2006 accident during the hunting trip with then-Vice President Dick Cheney, during which Cheney shot Whittington in the face with birdshot. The men had been out on the Armstrong Ranch in South Texas when the vice president tried to shoot a bird but hit Whittington, who was 78 then. Whittington was struck with pellets in the face, neck, and chest, and suffered a heart attack.
“He was an extraordinary human being, and to be remembered as being the victim of a hunting accident sort of gripes me,” Rove said in a statement.
The lawyer was also known for decades of political work. He helped campaigns including John Tower’s 1961 Senate race and former President George W. Bush’s failed congressional campaign. He was also consulted by governors looking to improve state agencies and served on a number of state boards.
One of those boards was the Texas Board of Corrections, which was facing problems when a federal judge ruled that a state prison system’s conditions were so bad they were unconstitutional.
That work led to Whittington becoming a champion of prison reform and of inmates with mental disabilities.
The attorney’s political presence also involved renting out office space to Republican honchos while on the rise. Bush set up his gubernatorial campaign headquarters in Whittington’s Austin office building, and so did former Gov. Rick Perry and Rove too.
Rove also brought Whittington on as the secretary and treasurer of his company. Upon his passing, Rove said he was “an enormous source of good counsel and mentorship to dozens.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.