Conservative Blogger Andrew Breitbart Dies at 43

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(Photo credit: CNN)

By the CNN Wire Staff

Andrew Breitbart, the conservative blogger whose posting of a sexually explicit photo of U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner led to the congressman’s downfall, has died, his attorney confirmed Thursday.

He was 43.

Joel Pollak, editor-in-chief and in-house counsel for Breitbart’s website, Breitbart.com, posted a statement confirming his death.

“Andrew passed away unexpectedly from natural causes shortly after midnight this morning in Los Angeles,” the statement read. “We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior.”

Breitbart was the first to post Weiner’s infamous Twitter photos last year, in which the married congressman appeared barechested and in his underpants in pictures sent to a woman online. Weiner eventually stepped down amid the scandal.

Breitbart’s regular appearances on FOX News, his websites and his speeches to conservative groups made him a star on the right and a villain to the left.

He came under heavy criticism in 2010 for posting an edited and incomplete video of a speech by Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod, who is black, appearing to say she discriminated against a white farmer looking for assistance.

Sherrod was forced to resign over the video, which appeared on another of Breitbart’s websites, BigJournalism.com.

A full version of the speech showed that Sherrod had assisted the farmer. The department later offered her job back when it was clear she had been misrepresented.

Breitbart also posted video of a sting operation against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which showed conservative activists posing as a pimp and a prostitute seeking advice on how to set up a brothel.

The video prompted a groundswell of action against the organization, including a limited investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and a slashing of funds from the federal government and several states. ACORN went bankrupt and closed its doors.

Breitbart got his start helping to run the original right-wing online media behemoth the Drudge Report and helped launch The Huffington Post before founding his own websites.

The statement on Breitbart’.com Thursday included a portion of the new conclusion he wrote to his book, “Righteous Indignation”:

“I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and — famously — I enjoy making enemies.

“Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website. I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I’ve lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I’ve gained hundreds, thousands — who knows? — of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.”

— CNN’s Mark Preston contributed to this report.