(CNN) — The husband of former Florida congresswoman and Secretary of State Katherine Harris was found dead Tuesday morning, apparently by his own hand, Sarasota police and the family’s pastor said.
Anders Ebbesen, 68, had been ill, “but it is unknown if that is why he took his own life,” Pastor William Hild, of the First Baptist Church of Sarasota, said in a statement released by Sarasota police. “The family is asking for privacy, prayers, thoughts and love from the community.”
The nature of Ebbesen’s illness was not disclosed, but Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino added that Harris “wanted the community, her family and friends to know that her husband is no longer suffering.”
Police were called to the couple’s bayfront home around 7:30 a.m. to investigate a reported suicide, Sarasota police spokeswoman Genevieve Judge said. Hild said Ebbeson died of a self-inflicted gunshot.
Harris became a national lightning rod during the bitterly fought Florida recount that capped the 2000 presidential race. She was the co-chair of George W. Bush’s campaign in Florida and oversaw the state’s vote tally as secretary of state, eventually certifying the Republican as the winner by 537 votes over his Democratic rival, Vice President Al Gore.
The Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide recount of disputed ballots, but the U.S. Supreme Court brought a halt to further recounts, paving the way for Bush to become president. Harris won a seat in the House of Representatives in 2002, serving two terms before running unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2006.
From John Murgatroyd and Jamie Morrison
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