(AP) – The embattled chairman of the Missouri Republican Party gained some support Monday as police said they have no evidence of an anti-Semitic whispering campaign against a state auditor who killed himself.
A prominent GOP donor on Monday also revised his account of hearing a negative remark about the auditor’s religion, reaffirming the basic sentiment but saying the comment occurred earlier than he originally had recalled.
The twofold developments came as GOP Chairman John Hancock said he is weighing whether to remain in the job or resign following the Feb. 26 suicide of Auditor Tom Schweich, a Republican gubernatorial candidate who had said that Hancock was spreading false information about his religion.
Some Schweich supporters have called on Hancock to resign, or for the Republican state committee to remove him.
Hancock, who was elected chairman Feb. 21, said Monday that he would step down only if the controversy damages his ability to raise money for the Republican Party or hurts his other job as a paid consultant for GOP candidates.
He added: “I’ve received a tremendous amount of support from the state committee to continue on in this role.”
Schweich shot himself at his Clayton home just minutes after telling an Associated Press reporter that he wanted to go public with allegations that Hancock had been telling people Schweich was Jewish. Schweich, who was Christian but had Jewish ancestry, also had expressed angst to friends over what he perceived to be an anti-Semitic whispering campaign.
Clayton Police Detective Lt. Don Bass said Monday that the investigation into Schweich’s death is nearing an end. He said Schweich left behind no message explaining his actions, and detectives have found no evidence that he was the target of political bullying.
“I think everybody’s looking for a rational reason for an irrational act … but right now we’re not finding anything,” Bass told The Associated Press. He said based on “the leads and sources that we have heard from, we have not been able to prove that there was a whispering campaign.”