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The guy Cheney shot was involved in Funeralgate (gravedumping by Bush pal)

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StefanX Donating Member (801 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-13-06 01:42 PM
Original message
The guy Cheney shot was involved in Funeralgate (gravedumping by Bush pal)
Edited on Mon Feb-13-06 01:54 PM by StefanX
In 1999, Bush named Austin lawyer Harry Whittington (shot this weekend by Dick Cheney) to be the new director of Texas State Funeral Commission after a major shakeup in which the former director, Eliza May, was fired while investigating accusations of grave-dumping by SCI, the largest funeral-home operator in the world, headed by Robert Waltrip, a longtime Bush friend and major campaign contributor.

In 1999, while Bush was still Governor of Texas, he appointed Austin lawyer Harry Whittington to replace Eliza May as head of the Texas State Funeral Commission (TSFC) after a major shakeup in which she was fired while investigating accusations of grave desecration by a cemetery company owned by a longtime Bush friend. Ms. May later filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit alleging that she had been fired because her agency had been investigating allegations that a major Bush contributor, Houston-based SCI (Service Corporation International, the largest funeral-home operator in the world, burying 1 in every 9 Americans) had been desecrating graves to save money. Bush, under oath, denied ordering his aides (including his chief of staff and campaign manager Joe Allbaugh, who Bush would later appoint as head of FEMA) to pressure Ms. May to drop the investigation into his friends at SCI, but his testimony was contradicted by four other sworn witnesses. She later received a $210,000 out-of-court settlement.

The problems with SCI included a big lawsuit accusing the company of "recycling" bodies in several Jewish cemeteries it owned in the Palm Beach, Florida area, cramming new cadavers into existing graves, or digging up the dead and tossing their bones into the woods nearby. In late 2001 the media briefly reported on "Funeralgate" when Peter Hartmann, an SCI funeral operator from Boca Raton who had been brought in to clean up the funeral scandal, was found dead in his garage of carbon monoxide poisoning. Hartmann was a devout Catholic and devoted family man who was described by a co-worker as a very upright person who "always tried to do the right thing". His death was ruled suicide by the local police department.

In a separate story, last week Whittington won round three of a legal battle against the city of Austin, Texas, which had recently used the new "eminent domain" laws to seize a block his family has owned since 1980 in downtown Austin and build a garage on it.

A longer version of this thread, complete with links and photos, is here:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

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FreedomAngel82 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-13-06 01:43 PM
Response to Original message
1. Oh wow
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txindy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-13-06 02:05 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. Oh, yeah.
I find the story about Darth shooting this guy to be interesting on so many levels. Karma came to Whittington in the form of Darth's 'carelessness'.
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atommom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-13-06 01:47 PM
Response to Original message
2. Geez. Every time we turn over a rock, we find the same batch of
cockroaches skittering away.
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tinfoilinfor2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-13-06 01:49 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Nicely put!
:toast:
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warrens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-13-06 01:51 PM
Response to Original message
4.  Color me "completely unsurprised"
Scratch a Bushie, find a crook.
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StefanX Donating Member (801 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-13-06 02:02 PM
Response to Original message
5. My theory:
Whittington may have been making noises about revealing what he knows about Funeralgate -- so Cheney gave him a big-time "Fuck You" by swinging around 180 degrees and spraying the guy in the face with buckshot.

Cheney hoped the guy would die in the hospital so the story would just go away like that maid of Marvin Bush's who was mysteriously crushed to death by her own car in Marvin's driveway -- hence he never bothered to report the incident.
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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-13-06 02:05 PM
Response to Original message
6. Ooo, now I'm sorry Cheney missed the rat bastard. That story is worse
than the passages quoted above make it seem.

In Texas, the TSFC was investigating dozens of complaints against SCI's embalming practices. People were visiting their loved ones' crypts and tombs and finding body fluids leaking onto the ground and flies and ants covering the crypts. The TSFC found that SCI was using untrained embalmers and in many cases not even embalming the bodies, but were still charging for it. Eliza May was planning to fine SCI, as her job required, when Joe Allbaugh called her into his office for a "meeting." At the meeting, the head of SCI was there, and Allbaugh made it clear he expected her to drop the case. During the meeting, Bush made a brief appearance, asking the head of SCI if "those people were still bothering him."

May refused to drop the case, so the Republicans in charge of the TSFC fired the entire board and replaced it with one supporter, apparently Whittington. All charges were dropped, and SCI has been causing grief in the world ever since, from the Florida grave scandals, where graves were emptied and the remains thrown in a vacant lot to make room for new customers, to NOLA, where SCI has been responsible for collecting the victims of Katrina.

Eliza May sued, and Bush was forced to file an affadavit swearing he wasn't at the meeting and didn't even know the head of SCI (this is his standard response when in trouble, he's used it about Ken Lay, Jack Abramoff, James Bath, even John W Hinkley).

By the time the case was coming to trial, Bush was president, and there was much anticipation that he would be charged with perjury, since it was clear he lied on his affadavit. Republicans were scared, Democrats were rubbing their hands together, the trial was just two days away--then four planes were hijacked by terrorists and crashed into buildings, and the trial was delayed. By the time the smoke cleared, Eliza May had been pressured into settling out of court.

The world does not need people like Whittington. Better off without him.
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StefanX Donating Member (801 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-13-06 05:39 PM
Response to Original message
8. Kicking...
...because this Funeralgate angle isn't mentioned in most other threads!
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