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Stewart McKinney (politician)

Stewart Brett McKinney (January 30, 1931 – May 7, 1987) was an American politician who represented the Connecticut's 4th congressional district in the House of Representatives from 1971 until his death from AIDS in Washington, D.C. in 1987.

Stewart McKinney
Stewart McKinney.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 4th district
In office
January 3, 1971 – May 7, 1987
Preceded byLowell Weicker
Succeeded byChris Shays
Personal details
Stewart Brett McKinney

(1931-01-30)January 30, 1931
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedMay 7, 1987(1987-05-07) (aged 56)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Lucie Cunningham
EducationPrinceton University
Yale University (BA)

Early lifeEdit

McKinney was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in Connecticut. He attended Kent School and later Princeton University from 1949 to 1951, but dropped out and enlisted in the United States Air Force. He attained the rank of sergeant, and completed his enlistment in 1955. McKinney then returned to college, and received a B.A. from Yale University in 1958.

He raced cars and was involved in several car-related businesses, including Auto Interior Decorators, Inc. and Fairfield Firestone, and was President of a chain of tire stores called CMF Tires. He also owned Lantern Point Real Estate Development and other ventures.[1][2][3]

Political careerEdit

In 1966, McKinney was elected as a Republican to the Connecticut State House of Representatives, where he served two 2-year terms, 1967-1971. He was Minority Leader in his second term.

In 1970, McKinney ran for the U.S. House and won. He served in the House as a moderate Republican until his death in Washington, DC. He is widely known for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1986, which provides federal money for shelter programs. McKinney served on the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee[4] and is credited with coining the phrase "too big to fail" in connection with large banks.[5] In Congress, he served on the House Select Committee on Assassinations. During this time, he also served as a director of Bridgeport Hospital.

Death and legacyEdit

His death in 1987 was brought about by complications of AIDS. His physician speculated that McKinney became infected with HIV in 1979 as the result of blood transfusions during heart surgery.[6] McKinney was known by friends to be bisexual, though his family said this was not the case, which raised the issue of how he had contracted the disease. Antigay prejudice at the time of McKinney's death in 1987 may have promoted a disingenuous approach to speculations on the cause of McKinney's HIV infection.[7][8][9][10] Arnold Denson, the man with whom McKinney had been living in Washington, and to whom McKinney left property in his will, said that he had been McKinney's lover, and that he believed McKinney was already infected when Denson met him.[11]

After his death, Congress renamed the Salt Meadow National Wildlife Refuge in Connecticut the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.[12]


McKinney married Lucie Cunningham, the daughter of Briggs Cunningham II and Lucie Bedford, the granddaughter of a co-founder of Standard Oil. They had five children—Stewart Jr. (b. June 7, 1957), Lucie (b. June 8, 1958), Jean, Elizabeth (b. October 15, 1960), and John (b. March 6, 1964).

John McKinney was minority leader of the Connecticut State Senate until the end of 2014, and was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor in the 2014 elections.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "R1987: Rep. Stewart B. McKinney dies". Stamford Advocate. May 6, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  2. ^ Bridgeport Post, McKinney, Huebner Are Chairmen For Jets-Patriots Game Aug. 4, February 19, 1967
  3. ^ U.S. Government Printing Office, Stewart B. McKinney, Late a Representative from Connecticut, 1987, page 244
  4. ^ Stewart B. McKinney Finding Aid, Special Collections Research Center, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, The George Washington University
  5. ^ Dash, Eric (2009-06-20). "If It's Too Big to Fail, Is It Too Big to Exist?". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-22.
  6. ^ "1987: Rep. Stewart B. McKinney Dies". Stamford Advocate. Stamford, CT. May 6, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  7. ^ May, Clifford D. (May 9, 1987). "Friends Say McKinney Had Homosexual Sex". New York Times. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  8. ^ "AIDS Makes Another Chilling Advance, Claiming the Life of a Congressman". People magazine. New York, NY: TIME, Inc. May 25, 1987. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  9. ^ Houston, Paul (May 8, 1987). "Connecticut's McKinney, GOP Liberal, Dies of AIDS". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  10. ^ Kimmey, Samantha (December 20, 2012). "Rep. Barney Frank Comments on Scalia, Prostitution, Marijuana and More". The Raw Story. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  11. ^ Associated Press (August 23, 1989). "Congressman Killed by AIDS Led Secret Life, Gay Man Claims". Bangor Daily News. Bangor, ME. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  12. ^ U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. "Home page, Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge". Retrieved August 31, 2014.

External linksEdit