A prominent Republican donor stepped forward Thursday with evidence of an alleged “whisper campaign” against late gubernatorial candidate and Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich (R).
Joplin, Mo. businessman David Humphreys said in an affidavit that state Republican Party chairman John Hancock made “what were in my opinion negative remarks” about Schweich’s faith last fall, according to local TV station KYTV.
Schweich committed suicide on Feb. 26, the same day he’d arranged interviews with reporters so that he could publicly accuse Hancock of spreading misinformation about his religion. Schweich, an Episcopalian, believed Hancock had been telling people that he was Jewish in order to hamstring him among evangelical Christian voters in the Republican gubernatorial primary.
Hancock previously acknowledged that he may have told people Schweich was Jewish because he’d been mistaken about the late auditor’s religion. But the GOP chairman has consistently denied making negative remarks about Schweich’s faith.
Humphreys, a Schweich donor, said in the affidavit that Hancock told him at a Nov. 24 meeting, “Well, you know he (Schweich) is Jewish?”
“The meaning I took from Mr. Hancock’s statements and tone of his remarks was clear: He (Tom Schweich) is Jewish – in case you didn’t know – and that being Jewish is a negative attribute for Tom Schweich’s gubernatorial race,” Humphreys said, as quoted by KYTV.
Hancock disputed Humphrey’s version of events.
“I met with David Humphreys on two occasions—September 12 and November 24,” the GOP chairman told the news station. “As I have consistently stated, it is possible that I mentioned what I believed to be Tom Schweich’s religion, but if I did so, it would have been at our earlier meeting and it certainly was not in a derogatory manner. I absolutely did not make that mistake at our November meeting because I had learned otherwise 10 days previously.”
Hancock appeared last week on local radio station KMOX, where he has a semi-regular hosting gig, to read a lengthy statement denying the allegations of a “whisper campaign” and to state his intention to continue in his capacity as state party chairman.
Hancock simultaneously released an email exchange dated Nov. 15 that he had with former U.S. Sen. John Danforth (R-MO), in which he said he’d spoken with Schweich to dispel the rumors.
“I continue to be deeply disturbed by the allegations that I am anti-Semitic. I am not,” Hancock wrote in the email exchange.
Another Republican Party insider who said he was present at the Nov. 24 meeting, Paul Mouton, also contested Humphrey’s account. Mouton told the Associated Press that he didn’t hear Hancock mention that Schweich was Jewish.
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