A Republican state auditor from Missouri was found dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, and there is some indication that some unfriendly questions over Tom Schweich’s Jewish ancestry might have caused him distress prior to his death, as reported by the Forward.
Minutes before what is being treated as a suicide, Schweich called the Associated Press and said John Hancock, head of the Missouri Republican Party, had been launching an anti-semitic “whisper campaign” against the Episcopalian’s Jewish ancestry; his paternal grandfather was Jewish. Seven minutes before his death, Schweich also called Tony Messenger of the St. Lous Post Dispatch and left him a message, saying he wanted to speak to a reporter the next day.
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Hancock denies making any negative remarks about Schweich’s Jewish ancestry, and had thought he was Jewish because of his last name, “Until recently, I mistakenly believed Tom Schweich was Jewish, but it was simply what I believed to be a part of his biography–no different than that he was from St. Louis and graduated from Harvard Law school, ” he said in a statement to the Republican committee. Schweich had been re-elected and said a month ago he was seeking his party’s nomination for governor.
According to New York Times reporters, Schweich had sounded “agitated” when discussing rumors of his Jewish roots earlier in the week. Eric Greitens, another prospective GOP gubernatorial candidate and a former navy seal, is also Jewish, and the Washington Free Beacon described him as the “great Jewish hope.” However, Messenger thinks anti-semitism is a real issue in Missouri, and said the state, “gave us Frazier Glenn Miller, the raging racist who killed three people in a Jewish community center in Kansas City, ” according to Mother Jones. He said racism and anti-semitism is an issue, “especially in some rural areas. Schweich knew it. That is why all week long his anger burned.” Messenger also added that Schweich said his grandfather was proud of his Jewish heritage and instructed Tom, “never to let any anti-semitism go unpunished, no matter how slight.”
Schweich served as chief of staff to three different ambassadors to the United Nations and worked on anti drug trafficking initiatives in Afghanistan. “I have no idea why he killed himself, ” Messenger wrote in the Post Dispatch.