Stewart McKinney (politician)

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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 by Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.
Succeeded by Christopher Shays
Personal details
Born (1931-01-30)January 30, 1931
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died May 7, 1987(1987-05-07) (aged 56)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lucie Cunningham
Children John P. McKinney
Alma mater Yale University

Stewart Brett McKinney (January 30, 1931 – May 7, 1987) was an American politician who represented the Fourth congressional district of Connecticut in the House of Representatives from 1971 until his death.

Early life[edit]

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 career[edit]

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.

McKinney was a resident of Greens Farms, which is a part of Westport, Connecticut.

Death and legacy[edit]

His death in 1987 was brought about by complications of AIDS. His physician speculated he became infected with HIV in 1979 from blood transfusions during heart surgery.

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


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., Lucie, Jean, Elizabeth, and John.

John McKinney is minority leader of the Connecticut State Senate, who also failed in the Republican primaries to be their candidate for Governor in 2014.


  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. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 4th congressional district

January 3, 1971 – May 7, 1987
Succeeded by
Christopher Shays