Nixon Appoints Close Advisor to Auditor’s Office for Now

February 27, 2015 - Leave a Response

(AP) – Missouri’s Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday appointed one of his senior advisers to temporarily serve as state auditor following the death of Republican Auditor Tom Schweich, who police say died of an apparent suicide.

John Watson will serve as auditor until a permanent replacement is found, at which point he will resign, according to a release from Nixon’s office.

“I have tremendous respect for the state auditor’s office, and I will carry out these duties in service to the people of Missouri,” Watson said in the statement. “I continue to keep Tom Schweich’s family and friends in my thoughts and prayers, and join them in mourning this loss.”

Missouri law requires the governor to immediately appoint a replacement if there’s a vacancy in the office, which Nixon in a statement said provides “a critical public service.”

Nixon’s final appointee will serve the remainder of Schweich’s term until a new auditor is elected. Schweich was sworn in for a second, four-year term in late January.

For years, Watson was only person to have served as chief of staff for Nixon throughout his time in state government.

Watson had been Nixon’s chief of staff since he became governor in 2009 and held the same role since 1997 when Nixon was attorney general. He stepped down to act as one of the governor’s senior advisers in December.

The governor said Watson will act with the “professionalism, integrity and independence the citizens of Missouri expect and deserve” during his time as auditor.

The office, which under Schweich cranked out about 570 audits, continued working Friday and released an annual report bearing Schweich’s name about property seizures by law enforcement agencies.

Auditor’s spokesman Spence Jackson said the office also plans to go ahead with a scheduled release of an audit about the Joplin School District next week.

Hancock Tells State Committee Nothing “Malicious” in His Dealings With Schweich

February 27, 2015 - Leave a Response

Here is the text of the letter Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock sent out Friday to members of the State Committee:

To My Favorite People,

By now each of you has heard of Tom Schweich’s tragic passing.
The news came as an absolute shock to so many of us who knew him as a tenacious, energetic, and effective elected official who worked tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of this state and this nation.
No one will ever fully understand what led to yesterday’s tragedy. Still, I am sad to have learned that some of Tom final moments were spent thinking of an ongoing disagreement with me.
Many of you on this committee are aware of the issue, as it came up in several of our conversations during the past few months. While those who know me understand I would never denigrate anyone’s faith, Tom had mistakenly believed that I had attacked his religion.
Now, some political opponents—particularly liberal Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger—are using this tragic incident as an opportunity to criticize me and to smear the Missouri Republican Party. These attacks are not only disgusting; they are wrong.
I would like to set the record straight, once and for all: Until recently, I mistakenly believed that Tom Schweich was Jewish, but it was simply a part of what I believed to be his biography—no different than the fact that he was from St. Louis and had graduated from Harvard Law School. While I do not recall doing so, it is possible that I mentioned Tom’s faith in passing during one of the many conversations I have each day. There was absolutely nothing malicious about my intent, and I certainty was not attempting to “inject religion” into the governor’s race, as some have suggested (in fact, I have never met with donors or raised money on behalf of the Hanaway campaign).
Over the past several months, I had hoped to dispel these untrue rumors about me and make peace with Tom. It is my sincerest regret that we will be forever unable to do so.
We may never know what drove Tom to take his own life—but it seems clear that there were deeper and more profound issues than a minor political squabble.
Ultimately, I continue to believe that Tom was good man and a terrific State Auditor. I hope you will join Georgann and me as we continue to pray for his family.
If you have any additional questions or want to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your leadership in our state.

Best regards,
JH

Jason Perky Leaving Kansas Dems

February 27, 2015 - One Response

(AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin is putting an end to the rumors: He will not make another run for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

Akin’s 2012 Senate bid was undermined when he remarked in a TV interview that women’s bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy from what he called “legitimate rape.” The St. Louis County Republican, who served six terms in the House, was soundly defeated by Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill in the general election.

Akin recently made comments to a Washington, D.C., publication perceived by some as hints that he would challenge Republican Sen. Roy Blunt in the August 2016 primary, but Akin released a one-sentence statement Thursday that left no room for interpretation.

“In response to various questions: I will not be running for the U.S. Senate in 2016,” Akin said in the statement. Messages seeking further comment were not returned.

Akin, 67, told The Hill, a Washington newspaper, on Wednesday that “there is a high level of dissatisfaction among conservatives, that they have been pushed out of the Republican Party.” He said the Tea Party “is skeptical and wants some fresh blood, not just the same establishment guys.”

Blunt said during a conference call this week that he would not answer questions about the Senate race. He is expected to run for re-election but has not indicated when a formal announcement will be made.

Secretary of State Jason Kander, a 33-year-old Democrat, announced last week that he will run for Blunt’s Senate seat.

Akin Kills Senate Campaign Bid

February 27, 2015 - Leave a Response

(AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin is putting an end to the rumors: He will not make another run for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

Akin’s 2012 Senate bid was undermined when he remarked in a TV interview that women’s bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy from what he called “legitimate rape.” The St. Louis County Republican, who served six terms in the House, was soundly defeated by Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill in the general election.

Akin recently made comments to a Washington, D.C., publication perceived by some as hints that he would challenge Republican Sen. Roy Blunt in the August 2016 primary, but Akin released a one-sentence statement Thursday that left no room for interpretation.

“In response to various questions: I will not be running for the U.S. Senate in 2016,” Akin said in the statement. Messages seeking further comment were not returned.

Akin, 67, told The Hill, a Washington newspaper, on Wednesday that “there is a high level of dissatisfaction among conservatives, that they have been pushed out of the Republican Party.” He said the Tea Party “is skeptical and wants some fresh blood, not just the same establishment guys.”

Blunt said during a conference call this week that he would not answer questions about the Senate race. He is expected to run for re-election but has not indicated when a formal announcement will be made.

Secretary of State Jason Kander, a 33-year-old Democrat, announced last week that he will run for Blunt’s Senate seat.

Tomy Messenger’s Detailed Account of Last Talks with Schwiech

February 26, 2015 - Leave a Response

Post- Dispatch:

STATEMENT OF TONY MESSENGER, POST­DISPATCH EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
At 9:41 today, while I was speaking to middle school students from Rockwood schools at a career day at Kemp
Auto Museum in Chesterfield, state Auditor Tom Schweich left me a voice mail on my cell phone. It was to
invite a Post­Dispatch reporter to his house at 2:30 today for a news conference that was to include only the
Post­Dispatch and the Associated Press. He asked me to call him back when I could.
I texted him back at 11:14 when I was finished at the career day. I did not get a response.
This is the text of the voicemail: Tony, this is Tom Schweich calling. You can have a reporter here at my
house at 71XX Wydown* at 2:30. I’m willing to speak to the Post­Dispatch and AP only on this matter. I will
give a brief prepared statement, which we will videotape, and then I will answer questions from your
reporter. This is only for you two and I hope you will not make it known that I am doing this. Give me a call
and let me know if you will have somebody here at 2:30. To me this is more of a religion story than a
politics story, but it’s your choice on who the reporter is. Thanks, bye.
Over the past couple of days, beginning Tuesday morning, I had shared a couple of off the record phone calls
and texts with Mr. Schweich about what he planned to discuss with reporters on Thursday. Because he has
died, and because the nature of those discussions may be relevant to his state of mind in his final days, after
discussing the ethics of disclosure with my colleagues and boss, I am disclosing the nature of our previously
off the record conversations. Mr. Schweich made it clear he intended all of the information he discussed with
me to be public eventually. The discussions were not recorded and I didn’t take notes.
On Tuesday morning we talked for about half an hour as he shared a situation with me that he said was causing
him significant angst and asked for my confidence and advice. Mr. Schweich said that over the past few months
he had heard from campaign donors that while political consultant John Hancock was doing work for
gubernatorial candidate Catherine Hanaway, he would mention in passing that Mr. Schweich was Jewish. Mr.
Schweich, who says he is an Episcopalian, said he believed the mentions of his faith heritage were intended to
harm him politically in a gubernatorial primary in which many Republican voters are evangelical Christians.
He said his grandfather was Jewish, and that he was very proud of his connection to the Jewish faith. He said
his grandfather taught him to never allow any anti­Semitism go unpunished, no matter how slight. Mr.
Schweich said he had a donor who would confirm Mr. Hancock’s comments on the record. He said he had an
email from another donor mentioning the conversations.
He said that he had confronted Mr. Hancock about the comments and that he admitted that on one occasion
he mentioned to a donor that he believed Mr. Schweich to be Jewish. Mr. Schweich told me that Mr. Hancock
told Trish Vincent, (an employee of Mr. Schweich’s) that he mentioned his Jewish background on a number of
occasions.
Mr. Schweich told me he had sought to have Sen. Roy Blunt intervene in the matter, but that Mr. Blunt didn’t
return his phone calls. He said he had lunch with Andy Blunt to discuss it also. Mr. Schweich believed that Mr.
Hancock should resign as chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.
He asked me if I thought the information was newsworthy. I told him that yes, I thought it was, if he could
verify it. Mr. Schweich said he was so mad about the situation that he intended to hold a news conference on
the situation that day in Jefferson City.
I suggested to him, reminding him of our own history when he once held a news conference in his office the
day we published an editorial that angered him, that perhaps he might slow down, and let the anger subside. I
also suggest he call the Anti­Defamation League in St. Louis and seek counsel.
Mr. Schweich told me he would do that, and decided to hold off on a news conference. But he told me he
wouldn’t let it go and that he would likely hold a news conference later in the week in St. Louis.
He called again on Wednesday to tell me that he believed there was a chance that Mr. Hancock would resign,
and he was holding off on his news conference to see if that was going to happen. He also told me he had
talked to somebody in the St. Louis office of the ADL, and they told him that they would likely issue a
statement of some sort to the press after his news conference.
His next call was Thursday morning at 9:41 when he left me the voice mail about the planned 2:30 news
conference.
*EDITOR’S NOTE: This statement was edited to delete the exact address of Schweich’s home.

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