Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Danforth Blames Political Bullying for Schweich Suicide
March 3, 2015

(AP) – Former U.S. Sen. John Danforth has suggested that political bullying led Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich to fatally shoot himself.

Danforth delivered the eulogy Tuesday during a memorial service for Schweich that was attended by many of Missouri’s top elected officials and hundreds of others.

Schweich fatally shot himself last Thursday in what police say was an apparent suicide.

Danforth was a close friend, co-worker and political mentor to Schweich, who had planned to run for governor.

Danforth said that in the days before his death, Schweich was upset about a negative radio ad that mocked his appearance and was distraught by what Schweich perceived as an anti-Semitic whispering campaign against him. Schweich was Christian, but had some Jewish ancestry.

Danforth said: “Words do hurt. Words can kill.”

Huelskamp On List for Homeland Funding Pressure
March 2, 2015

Politico:
An outside group aligned with House GOP leadership will spend $400,000 this week to urge dozens of conservative House Republicans to vote for Department of Homeland Security funding — a new and more aggressive phase in the legislative battle among Republicans that’s consuming Capitol Hill.

The nonprofit American Action Network is airing an ad in three states — Kansas, Oklahoma and Ohio — urging Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to back funding for the anti-terrorism agency. The 30-second spot will run at least 50 times in each district — on broadcast, in prime slots — Tuesday and Wednesday as the House is expected to take up a DHS funding bill.

The group says the ad campaign, which also includes radio ads on nationally syndicated shows and digital ads in dozens of other districts represented by House conservatives, is the opening salvo of a larger effort to help Republican leaders pass center-right legislation. American Action Network says it will spend millions of dollars to contact voters in the coming months. The move appears designed to give Boehner cover to end the months-long impasse over homeland security funding.

Kansas Lawmakers To Concentrate on Budget in Session’s 2nd Half
March 2, 2015

(AP) – Kansas legislators are shifting their focus to building the next state budget now that their annual session has cleared its midpoint.

The Republican-dominated Legislature began March needing to erase a projected shortfall of nearly $600 million in the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

They also must decide whether they’ll backtrack on personal income tax cuts enacted in 2012 and 2013 at GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s urging to stimulate the economy. They could pursue other revenue-raising ideas.

House and Senate committees already have been reviewing Brownback’s budget proposals.

But March is when a full spending blueprint for the next fiscal year and another for the fiscal year beginning in July 2016 are supposed to come together.

Legislators hit the 45th day of their 90-day session last week.

Nixon Appoints Close Advisor to Auditor’s Office for Now
February 27, 2015

(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.

Tomy Messenger’s Detailed Account of Last Talks with Schwiech
February 26, 2015

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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