Hancock Says Fundraising is Key to Staying on GOP Job
March 23, 2015

(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.”

Hancock Steps Up Defense, Others Call for Resignation
March 12, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – The chairman of the Missouri Republican Party mounted a public defense of his reputation Thursday as several state lawmakers called for his resignation over his alleged involvement in an anti-Semitic whispering campaign against a state auditor who killed himself.

GOP Chairman John Hancock said he is not resigning and has been the target of “malicious rumors” from people who believe he was telling Republican donors that former Auditor Tom Schweich, also a Republican, was Jewish.

Schweich fatally shot himself Feb. 26, a month after declaring his candidacy for governor and minutes after telling reporters he was ready to go public with allegations that Hancock had made anti-Semitic comments about him. Schweich was a Christian.

Schweich’s death has roiled Missouri politics, highlighting the intense divisions among Republicans as they head into an important 2016 election in which they will be defending a U.S. Senate seat and seeking to recapture the governor’s office from Democrats.

Former Republican U.S. Sen. John Danforth, an elder statesman and political mentor to Schweich, used his friend’s funeral eulogy earlier this month to suggest Schweich had been driven to suicide by political bullying and angst over the perceived anti-Semitic comments.

On Thursday, five Republican lawmakers called for Hancock to resign.

“If we don’t try to make a change in direction, this will haunt us in the August 2016 (primary) elections and the November 2016 elections,” said state Sen. David Pearce, of Warrensburg. “Our party is at a crossroads. We need a change at the top, and that’s why we’re asking John Hancock to resign as our chairman.”

Pearce was joined by state Sens. Mike Parson, of Bolivar, and Gary Romine, of Farmington, and state Reps. Bill White, of Joplin, and Jim Neely, of Cameron.

Hancock, meanwhile, released a list of nearly two dozen people – headed by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner- vouching for his character and integrity.

“There was no whisper campaign; there is no anti-Semitism in me; I did not do any of the things that had been alleged of me,” Hancock told The Associated Press. “My reputation has been damaged greatly in this process, and I want my reputation back.”

Hancock Tells State Committee Nothing “Malicious” in His Dealings With Schweich
February 27, 2015

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,

Hancock Wins Top GOP Spot in Missouri
February 22, 2015

(AP) — Missouri Republicans overwhelmingly elected Chesterfield consultant John Hancock on Saturday to lead the party as the GOP gears up to fight for U.S. Senate and House seats, the governorship and other statewide offices in 2016.

Hancock, who won handily despite competition from two other candidates, will take over a financially struggling party facing a primary battle for Missouri governor.

Fifty members of the Missouri Republican State Committee voted in favor of Hancock during the annual Reagan Lincoln Days conference. Nick Myers, chairman of the Newton County Republicans, won 11 votes. Seven voted for eighth congressional district Republican chairman Eddy Justice.

The 50-year-old Hancock replaces Ed Martin, who announced plans earlier this month to serve as president of the conservative interest group Eagle Forum.

Hancock has raised concerns about the party’s finances and has described them as a disaster. Treasurer Richard Peerson said with expenses from Lincoln Days the party has negative cash on hand, dipping down $77,189 in debt following expenses from the conference.

“There is much that needs to be done to fix our party and move us forward in a healthy direction,” Hancock said to committee members. “Leadership means identifying a problem and then standing up and being willing to take on the challenges.”

Hancock also stressed party unity as members begin primary battles for the Missouri governor, emphasizing cutting down on Republican in-fighting.

Missouri GOP Chief to Lead Eagle Forum
February 3, 2015

(AP) — The chairman of the Missouri Republican Party said Monday that he is leaving to take a leadership position with a conservative interest group, a move that could avert a potential battle over the direction of the state GOP.

Republican Chairman Ed Martin said he has accepted an offer to become president of the Eagle Forum, an organization founded several decades ago by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. His new position starts immediately and is full-time, so Martin said he is dropping his party re-election bid.

Martin said he is the first person other than Schlafly to be president of the group. Schlafly, 91, will remain as chairwoman and CEO.

The Missouri Republican State Committee is to meet Feb. 21 to select a chairman. Martin was being challenged by Republican consultant John Hancock, who has raised concerns about the party’s finances heading into the 2016 elections. It’s unclear whether any other candidates will come forward to run against Hancock.

Martin, 44, of St. Louis, had been chairman since defeating David Cole in a party shakeup after the 2012 elections, when Republicans gained state legislative seats but lost races for U.S. Senate, governor and other statewide offices. Martin lost a bid for attorney general that year, and he said the party brass had lost touch with rank-and-file members.

Martin said is he leaving the party in better shape.

Martin said his departure has nothing to do with the challenge from Hancock, who has described the party’s finances as a disaster. At times this past year, the party has reported just a few thousand dollars in its bank accounts, with debts nearly equaling or exceeding the available cash.