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California game commissioner, former White House aide dies

SACRAMENTO --Bob Hattoy, the president of the California Fish and Game Commission and an advocate for gay and lesbian issues in the Clinton White House, has died at age 56.

Hattoy, a consultant and motivational speaker, died Sunday of complications from AIDS, said Adrianna Shea, a special assistant to the commission.

"Bob was a tireless and dedicated fish and game commissioner who will be sorely missed by all of us," Richard Rogers, the commission's vice president, said in a statement.

Hattoy, the son of a mechanical engineer and a school registrar, was born Nov. 1, 1950, in Providence, R.I.

He became politically active protesting the Vietnam War and dropped in and out of college. He worked at Disneyland and for a Los Angeles city councilman before joining the staff of the Sierra Club at age 28. He was regional director for the environmental group in California and Nevada.

In 1992, just after learning he had AIDS, Hattoy gave a nationally televised speech during the Democratic National Convention, accusing the former President Bush of doing nothing about the disease.

"I don't want to die," he said. "But I don't want to live in an America where the president sees me as an enemy. I can face dying because of a disease, but not because of politics."

In 1993, he went to work for President Clinton as a deputy in the Office of White House Personnel. He was the White House liaison to the Department of Interior from 1994 to 1999.

Clinton also appointed him to the Presidential Commission on HIV/AIDS, where he served as chairman of the commission's research committee. He was also a vocal advocate for gays and lesbians in the Clinton administration.

"Bob was an agitator in the best sense of the word," said Richard Socarides, a special assistant to Clinton on gay and lesbian policies. "Bob often meant trouble because Bob was never satisfied."

When Clinton said he would consider limiting the deployments of gays and lesbians in the military, Hattoy said it amounted to "restricting gays and lesbians to jobs as florists and hairdressers."

Former California Gov. Gray Davis appointed Hattoy to the state Fish and Game Commission in 2002. He was reappointed in 2003 to a six-year term.

Last month, he was elected president of the five-member commission, which adopts policies for the Department of Fish and Game, and regulates hunting, fishing and species protection efforts.