Richard Bates, Disney Senior Vice-President of Government Relations passed away at the age of 70 on Thursday. According to a statement released by Disney, his death was sudden.

In a statement from Disney, Chapek and Iger mourned his loss saying, “For those of us lucky enough to have known Richard personally, his loss is profound.”

Bates has worked for Disney since1991, advocating for causes on behalf of the company. When he was hired he was tasked with creating a lobbying office for Disney. Since 2010, Bates has overseen Disney’s Washington D.C. office which includes interactions with the federal government, state governments, and trade entities. Before coming to Disney, Bates had a career in politics and was the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Through his time at Disney, he was an advocate for a host of issues that included copyright, trade, travel, and telecommunications. Recently, bates had been advocating the recently passed COVID-19 relief package. He also appeared at the White House this year with other media company executives as theme parks were facing closures.

Bates was highly respected by his peers and in 2018 was elected to the board of trustees for the Media Institute, a Washington, D.C. This is an advocacy organization for free speech and communications policy issues.

Bob Chapek and Bob Iger Joint Statement on Richard Bates Passing

All of us at Disney are heartbroken by the sudden loss of our longtime colleague and dear friend Richard Bates. As head of our Government Relations team in Washington, D.C., Richard was second to none in his field —- widely respected for his incredible achievements and beloved for his extraordinary kindness, compassion, and irresistible wit. He was passionate about his work and approached it with the same astuteness and unwavering enthusiasm he demonstrated when he first joined Disney three decades ago. For those of us lucky enough to have known Richard personally, his loss is profound. He will be deeply missed, and our prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Rose, their sons Ricky and Chris, and his entire family.