A senior adviser for Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign broke his silence Wednesday on his involvement in a nasty campaign in Missouri that preceded the suicide of a Republican gubernatorial candidate there.
Jeff Roe, the principal of Kansas City, Mo.-based Axiom Strategies, was managing Republican Catherine Hanaway’s gubernatorial campaign when a statewide radio ad aired in mid-February that attacked her primary rival, former Missouri state Auditor Tom Schweich (R). The spot was cited as contributing to the charged campaign atmosphere amid which Schweich committed suicide on Feb. 26.
The ad’s “House of Cards”-style narrator compared Schweich to Barney Fife, the bumbling sidekick to Sheriff Andy Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show,” and said that Democrats in Washington would “squash [Schweich] like the little bug that he is.”
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch report published last month tied Roe to the political action committee that ran the ad, Citizens for Fairness in Missouri. At the time, Roe did not respond to requests for comment on the ad from TPM and other new outlets.
But in a new interview with the Kansas City Star, Roe said he financed the spot with $8,300 of his own money.
Former Sen. John Danforth (R-MO) had called out the ad as “bullying” in his scathing eulogy at Schweich’s funeral. Roe declined to comment on that characterization but did say that he would not have run the ad if he had been aware of Schweich’s mental state, according to the newspaper.
Roe also told the Kansas City Star that while his firm would continue to manage Hanaway’s gubernatorial campaign, he would have little, if any, involvement with it because he is committed to Cruz’s campaign. He further suggested that Hanaway was unhappy with the tone of the anti-Schweich ad.
“She had a very aggressive conversation with me afterwards about my participation in the race and what it would look like if I wanted to stay involved going forward,” he told the newspaper.