CLAYTON, Mo. – Missouri’s leaders from its U.S. Senators to its governor – joined by dozens of state lawmakers – poured into the Church of St. Michael and St. George, joining the family of the late Auditor Tom Schweich to mourn his death following an apparent suicide last week.
“Words do hurt. Words can kill,” said Rev. John C. Danforth, a former U.S. Senator from Missouri, with Schweich’s casket – bearing a large Missouri flag – laying before him, blaming dirty politics for the death of Missouri’s auditor and his former chief of staff.
Danforth referred directly to a negative ad – produced by a firm with close ties to Schweich’s opponent in the governor’s race – that referred to Schweich as a “little bug” and likened his looks to those of Barney Fife in the Andy Griffith show, as well as an alleged whisper campaign pushed to Christian conservatives that Schweich believed was led by the new chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, John Hancock, that he was Jewish.
Danforth, as well as a handful of advisors who were close to Schweich, said his belief that Hancock had led a negative campaign against him had been eating at him for months, a concern that was given more weight when Hancock became chairman of the party late lats month. Schweich, Danforth said, was wanting to fight that campaign with “righteous indignation against what he saw as a terrible wrong.”
“The only reason to go around saying someone is Jewish is to politically profit from bigotry,” Danforth said.
Danforth said the producer of the negative ad was a “bully.” Danforth said Schweich’s passing should be a “turning point” for the state’s politics to become less brutal and more mindful of the lives of politicians.
The pews here were full of lobbyists and consultants, many of whom had worked for Schweich at one point or another. They were full of his political friends and even some foes. Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt sat next to his newly declared Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Jason Kander.
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