News & Politics

After Vicious Smear Campaign by Ted Cruz Adviser, Second Missouri GOP Official Commits Suicide

The deaths of Spence Jackson and Tom Schweich have caused outrage following attacks against Schweich.

Yesterday, Spence Jackson, a spokesman for Missouri state auditor Tom Schweich—who committed suicide last month—was found dead of “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

The deaths of Jackson and Schweich have sparked outrage in Missouri. In the final days of his life, Schweich was subject to both an overt and covert campaign attacking him personally, including rumors that he was Jewish (he did have Jewish lineage on his grandfather's side but was a practicing Episcopalian).

In his eulogy for Schweich, former Missouri Senator John Danforth issued a strong rebuke of the campaigns waged against the former state auditor, saying, “Words do hurt. Words can kill. That has been proven right here in our home state.”

In the days leading up to Schweich's suicide, he alleged that the state's GOP chairman, John Hancock, was telling people he was Jewish.

“Until recently, I mistakenly believed that Tom Schweich was Jewish, but it was simply a part of what I believed to be his biography,” Hancock reportedly emailed to his party's central committee (he did not attend Schweich's funeral). Hancock did not explain why Schweich's faith was relevant.

It wasn't an explanation that Danforth bought. “Someone said this was no different than saying a person is Presbyterian. Here's how to test the credibility of that remark: When was the last time anyone sidled up to you and whispered into your ear that such and such a person is a Presbyterian?”

In addition to a whisper campaign against Schweich's faith, his intended campaign for governor of Missouri made him the target of political rivals who already began hitting him with paid advertisements. In one radio ad, composed by Ted Cruz adviser Jeff Roe's Axiom Strategies, he was called a “little bug” and compared to the television character Barney Fife due to his physical build.

AlterNet called Axiom Strategies and requested Roe's comment about both suicides. We were told that Roe has not answered any media requests on this topic. As of this writing, the Cruz campaign has not gotten back to us with a comment.

In an interview with CNN yesterday, Cruz said he was “not going to engage in the personal mudslinging, in the negative attacks on people's character.” If that were true, why would he hire someone who played a role in such a brutal smear campaign?

Listen to the Axiom Strategies ad below:


Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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