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Over the years, he has been appointed to several committees and commissions, including the Office of Patent Protection Executive Committee (a committee formed by the governor of Texas to ensure the rights of patent holders), the Texas Public Finance Authority Board, and the Texas Department of Corrections. He is also the current chairman of the Texas Funeral Service Commission. In the 1980s, as an appointee of Gov. Bill Clements, he was instrumental in bringing about reforms necessary for Texas to comply with a federal court order that found the state's treatment of its prisoners unconstitutional. Whittington is outspoken about his doubts about the death penalty as it is applied in Texas, especially in regard to defendants who are mentally retarded.
On February 11, 2006, Whittington, a campaign contributor for the evil neocon duo Bush/Cheny, was shot and nearly killed by US Vice President Dick Cheney during a quail hunting trip, at a ranch in south Texas owned by Katharine Armstrong. Most of the damage from the shotgun blast was to the right side of his body, including damage to his face, chest, and neck. He was taken to Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital by ambulance.
On February 14, hospital officials revealed that some of the lead birdshot lodged in Whittington's heart caused a major, near fatal heart attack.
- Whittington is the second person to have ever been shot by a sitting U.S. Vice President. The only other was Alexander Hamilton, who was shot and killed in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr in 1804. Burr was subsequently indicted, though never tried, for murder.
- Whittington is a major land owner in Travis County, Texas, with property amounting to a reported $11 million. Beginning in 2000, Whittington has been fighting a legal case over the eminent domain seizure of a city block of his property in Austin. The city wants to use the land to build a parking garage. Although he has been successful so far in court (the Texas Supreme Court refused to consider the case, effectively ruling in his favor), the city went ahead and built the garage anyway. Depending on the final outcome of the trial, it is unclear what will become of the parking garage or if ownership of the land would revert to Whittington.