Tom Schweich was the auditor of Missouri, gearing up for the Republican primaries in an attempt to run for governor. On February 26, he was found with a gunshot wound that investigators are saying was self-inflicted, and was pronounced dead at the hospital. Now, political insiders are saying that his death may have had to do with a smear tactics used against him—attempts to discredit his reputation, by bringing up his Jewish ancestry.
Tony Messenger, an editorial columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, revealed in the newspaper that Schweich had told him about an anti-Semitic “whisper campaign” against him, orchestrated by John Hancock, the head of the Missouri Republican Party.
Schweich was an Episcopalian, but his paternal grandfather was Jewish, a fact of which he had said he was proud.
According to the Forward, Schweich killed himself shortly after calling the Associated Press with his accusations against Hancock.
“Until recently, I mistakenly believed that Tom Schweich was Jewish, but it was simply a part of what I believed to be his biography — no different than the fact that he was from St. Louis and had graduated from Harvard Law School,” Hancock has since said in a statement.
The full details of the “whisper campaign” are as of yet unclear, but apparently Schweich felt that hostility would not be taken seriously. Messenger wrote: “In the end, [Schweich] called me, perhaps because he didn’t have anybody else. Nobody in his party wanted him to hold a news conference suggesting that there were anti-Semites in the Republican Party.”