Parson Calls for Campaign Clean Up After Schweich’s Death
March 2, 2015

(AP) – A Missouri state senator, his voice cracking with emotion on Monday, challenged his political colleagues to clean up their campaign tactics following the death of gubernatorial candidate and State Auditor Tom Schweich in an apparent suicide.

Schweich fatally shot himself last Thursday, just minutes after calling reporters to say he wanted to go public with allegations that the Missouri Republican Party chairman had made anti-Semitic comments about him. A Schweich spokesman said he also had been upset recently about a new negative radio ad that belittled his physical appearance and integrity as an opening salvo in the Republican primary for the 2016 governor’s race.

Republican state Sen. Mike Parson took to the Senate floor Monday to denounce a political environment in which opposition researchers and shadowy political committees are used to smear the reputation of rival candidates with “totally misleading statements, outright lies and propaganda.”

“It has become a way to destroy one’s character, to destroy one’s integrity and their honor, not to mention destroying their families,” said Parson, of Bolivar, who had supported Schweich’s campaign. “Today it seems as though everything is done to win an election by any means at any cost.”

As senators sat silently listening, Parson challenged his colleagues – calling out several of them by the office they hold or are seeking – to join him in committing to refrain from false accusations and demeaning statements and to not support any candidates who uses such tactics.

Many of the state’s top elected officials are expected to attend Schweich’s funeral Tuesday in Clayton. Among those scheduled to speak is former U.S. Sen. John Danforth, a Missouri Republican who was a friend and co-worker of Schweich’s and who has been outspoken against the uncompromising nature of modern politics.

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.

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,

Treasurer Clint Zweifel on Schweich’s Death
February 26, 2015

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel:
“It is with a heavy heart that I send my thoughts and prayers to the Schweich family during this difficult time. Tom served his state and country admirably, and fought strongly for his values. With his passing, Missouri has lost a devoted public servant. He will be missed.”

Nixon Statement on Death of Auditor Tom Schweich
February 26, 2015

Here is the statement from Governor Jay Nixon:
“I join all Missourians in mourning the passing of State Auditor Tom Schweich, a brilliant, devoted and accomplished public servant who dedicated his career to making Missouri and the world a better place,” Gov. Nixon said. “From his courageous work to combat the illegal drug trade abroad in Afghanistan to his tireless efforts to protect the interests of taxpayers here in Missouri, Tom Schweich’s exceptional intellect and unwavering dedication to public service left a legacy that will endure for many years to come. The First Lady and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Tom’s wife Kathy and two children, Emilie and Thomas, Jr.”