We reported earlier that Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich died today of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Schweich was considered a leading candidate to run for governor.
Now the editorial page editor of the St Louis Post-Dispatch, Tony Messenger, has come forward to say that in the days leading up to Schweich’s suicide he had confided to Messenger that he was planning to reveal that the head of the state Republican party was leading a whispering campaign suggesting that Schweich was in fact a Jew.
According to Messenger’s just published column, Schweich had Jewish heritage but was in fact an Episcopalian.
Here’s the key passage from Messenger’s just published column …
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.
He wasn’t, which is to say that he attended an Episcopal church, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t proud of his Jewish heritage, passed down from his grandfather.
Missouri is the state that gave us Frazier Glenn Miller, the raging racist who last year killed three people at a Jewish community center in Kansas City. It’s the state in which on the day before Schweich died, the Anti-Defamation League reported on a rise of white supremacist prison gangs in the state.
Division over race and creed is real in Missouri Republican politics, particularly in some rural areas. Schweich knew it. It’s why all week long his anger burned.
We will be looking very closely at this story tomorrow.