Navy Chief Nominee May Have Killed Self
Fri Jul 25,11:29 AM ET
By RICHARD BENKE, Associated Press Writer
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Oilman Colin McMillan, who was awaiting Senate confirmation as Navy secretary, died from a single gunshot wound, and investigators said Friday it might have been self-inflicted.
"All indications are it could be suicide, but we're not going to reach that conclusion until the investigation is over," said District Attorney Scot Key of Alamogordo.
McMillan was nominated as Navy secretary by President Bush in May. He was 67.
He died around lunch time Thursday and his body was found at his southern New Mexico ranch by two employees, said Roswell Mayor Bill Owen, a family spokesman and longtime McMillan employee. The 55,000-acre Three Rivers ranch is on the edge of the White Sands Missile Range.
McMillan had run Permian Exploration Corp. in Roswell, chaired Bush's New Mexico presidential campaign in 2000 and served as an assistant defense secretary under the first President Bush.
Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Steve Pearce, both New Mexico Republicans, issued statements mourning McMillan's death.
"America has lost a leader, a patriot and statesman," Pearce said.
Domenici said McMillan was "someone who succeeded at everything he tried and everything he did, and yet he was about as humble as anyone you will ever meet."
President Bush had submitted McMillan's nomination to the Senate in May to fill a post left vacant since January, when Gordon England left to become deputy secretary of the new Homeland Security Department.
McMillan had run for the U.S. Senate in 1994, losing to incumbent Jeff Bingaman in a bitter and costly campaign. He was a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1971 to 1982.
Besides managing the 2000 Bush campaign in New Mexico, McMillan was state chairman for Bob Dole's presidential campaign in 1996.
He served in the Marine Corps from 1957-72 and was an assistant defense secretary in the early 1990s when Vice President Dick Cheney was the defense secretary.
Owen said he worked for McMillan for about 22 years in the oil and gas industry, at McMillan Production Co. He praised his honesty, ethics and business skill.
"He was involved in numerous types of business, was successful in all those business ventures and did so in a very up-front and honest and straightforward fashion," Owen said.
McMillan is survived by his wife, Kay, and their four children.