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Schweich's death stunned many of Missouri's top elected officials, who described him as a "brilliant" and "devoted" public servant with an "unblemished record" in office. Just 13 minutes before police got an emergency call from his home, Schweich had a phone conversation with The Associated Press about his plans to go public that afternoon with allegations that the head of the Missouri Republican Party had made anti-Semitic comments about him.
Schweich had Jewish ancestry but attended an Episcopal church. Spokesman Spence Jackson said his boss had recently appeared upset about the comments people were supposedly making about his religious faith and about a recent radio ad describing Schweich as "a weak candidate for governor" who "could be easily confused for the deputy sheriff of Mayberry" and could "be manipulated."
Schweich was 54. He had been in office since January 2011 and had easily won election in November to a second, four-year term. He announced a month ago that he was seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2016, and was gearing up for an expected primary fight against Catherine Hanaway, a former U.S. attorney and Missouri House speaker.
Naturally high-strung, Schweich seemed unusually agitated — his voice sometimes quivering and his legs and hands shaking — when he told an AP reporter on Monday that he wanted to hold a press conference to allege that Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock had made anti-Semitic remarks about him.
President George W. Bush appointed Schweich to the State Department in 2005 as an international law enforcement official. Two years later, Bush picked Schweich to coordinate the anti-drug and justice reform efforts in Afghanistan.
In conversations with the AP, Schweich said he had heard that Hancock had been making phone calls last fall in which he mentioned in an off-handed way that Schweich was Jewish. Schweich said he felt the comments were anti-Semitic and wanted Hancock to resign the party chairmanship to which he had been elected last Saturday.
Hancock told the AP on Thursday that Schweich had talked to him about the alleged comments last November, but not since then. Hancock, who is a political consultant, said he held meetings last fall with prospective donors for a project to register Catholic voters. Hancock said that if he had mentioned that Schweich was Jewish, it would have been in the context that Hanaway was Catholic but that was no indication of how Catholics were likely to vote.
"I don't have a specific recollection of having said that, but it's plausible that I would have told somebody that Tom was Jewish because I thought he was, but I wouldn't have said it in a derogatory or demeaning fashion," Hancock said.
originally posted by: olaru12
a reply to: FireflyStars
I found it odd as well. A bit early for speculation but.....hummmm?
He said his audits exposed more than 30 "corrupt government officials" who allegedly stole taxpayer money. But his promised gubernatorial campaign against corruption had barely begun.
Announcing his candidacy last month, Schweich had vowed to bring a never-before-seen "level of intensity, tenacity, transparency, and rigor" in a quest to root out "rampant corruption in Jefferson City."
As evidence of his grit, Schweich touted his work in the U.S. State Department coordinating an anti-drug initiative in Afghanistan.
"Negotiating with Afghan warlords prepared me well for Missouri politics," he said.
He took specific aim at the state's top political donor, retired investment mogul Rex Sinquefield, who largely bankrolled the campaign of his GOP gubernatorial rival Catherine Hanaway, a former state House speaker and federal prosecutor.
Schweich said the $900,000 Hanaway accepted from her "billionaire patron" made her "bought and paid for" by Sinquefield, who employs an "army of mercenaries" to exert his influence over elected officials.
"Nothing is too dishonest for them, and apparently nothing is too petty for them, either," Schweich said last month. "It's corrupt, and there's a lot more corruption going on in that camp that we'll be talking about in the days to come."
Hancock told the AP after Schweich's death that it's possible he may have told some people Schweich was Jewish, "but I wouldn't have said it in a derogatory or demeaning fashion," he said.
Schweich confronted Hancock in November about the alleged comments, but their tension was not resolved. As the date approached for the party chairman's election, Schweich reached out to other Republicans -- including U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and some state party committee members -- to try to rally people against electing Hancock.
Some Republicans declined to get involved in what they viewed as personal spat.
Had I not ignored his phone call to me at 9:41 Thursday morning — I was doing a thing at my kids’ school district — I might have been the last person to talk to the man who wanted to be governor. It made for a chilling day in which I decided to do something I’ve never done before as a reporter: reveal the contents of off-the-record conversations with a source. That source is now dead. I believe it’s what he would have wanted.
I have no idea why Schweich killed himself. But for the past several days he had been confiding in me that he planned to accuse the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, John Hancock, with leading a “whisper campaign” among donors that he, Schweich, was Jewish.
Schweich, 54, had been in office since 2011, after defeating Democratic incumbent Susan Montee. He easily won re-election last November to another four-year term. He did not have a Democratic opponent, a fact that Schweich and his allies emphasized as proof of his bipartisan appeal.
A lawyer with financial expertise, Schweich had garnered bipartisan praise for his conduct as state auditor. He was particularly close to former Sen. John C. Danforth, R-Mo., who was his mentor and former boss.
Schweich had a tense relationship with Nixon, stemming from the auditor’s lawsuit challenging some of the governor’s budgetary powers. Schweich lost the lawsuit but strongly supported the constitutional amendment approved by voters last fall that curbs the governor’s powers when it comes to the state budget.
Schweich also had been at odds lately with some in the GOP establishment. Although he had been outraising Hanaway, he had gone public with accusations that her top donor, financier Rex Sinquefield, was trying to buy a governor.
His outspoken concern about the corrosive nature of money in politics had prompted Schweich to launch his campaign for governor with self-imposed restrictions on how much money he would accept from a single donor.
Schweich postponed a planned press conference Tuesday. But he called the AP at 9:16 a.m. Thursday inviting an AP reporter to his home for a 2:30 p.m. interview and noting that a reporter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also had been invited. An AP reporter spoke with Schweich by phone again at 9:35 a.m. to confirm the upcoming interview.
Police say the emergency call to Schweich's house was received at 9:48 a.m.