It’s no secret that I find Republican politics here in Missouri an ugly business, especially in terms of what Republicans are doing to our state. And now it is no secret that the ugliness in the Missouri GOP isn’t just a quality manifested in its policy decisions and preferences. There is an internal ugliness that is equally disturbing.
On February 26, as you all know by now, Missouri’s state auditor Tom Schweich killed himself at his home in St. Louis County. Schweich, a very conservative Republican, had decided he wanted to be governor, since Jay Nixon cannot run again in 2016. But Schweich wasn’t treated very Christianly by some of his fellow Republicans, including a nasty right-wing political consultant named Jeff Roe and, believe it or not, the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, John Hancock. Roe produced a negative radio ad that made fun of the way Schweich looked—“little bug”—and Hancock was spreading rumors that Schweich was, uh, Jewish.
Now, I can’t tell you why it is that here in the 21st century, after all the death and destruction in the 20th related to anti-Semitism, that a Republican leader in this state would think it was good politics to point out the alleged Jewishness of a fellow Republican (Schweich, it turns out, attended an Episcopal church). It is beyond my ability to comprehend, presumably because I’m not a nasty Republican operative. But I am guessing that spreading it around that Schweich was a Jew was meant to signal to Christian Republicans that he wasn’t really one of them. Couldn’t be trusted.
Just minutes before he killed himself, Schweich had invited reporters to his home that day to discuss the whisper campaign against him. One of those reporters was Tony Messenger, Editorial Page Editor for the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Messenger wrote:
Nobody in his party wanted him to hold a news conference suggesting that there were anti-Semites in the Republican Party. “I won’t back down,” he told me. I believed him.
The question has been, since Schweich’s suicide, whether there would emerge any evidence, besides Schweich’s own claims, that there was in fact a slimy campaign to “out” him as a Jew. Now we have a sworn affidavit from a wealthy Joplin businessman that indicates there was.
David Humphreys, who runs Tamko Building Products here in Joplin, is one of most aggressive donors to Republicans and right-wing interests in Missouri (as well as other states and nationally). As we all know, especially these days, money commands the attention of the political class. The chairman of the state’s GOP had a couple of meetings with Humphreys in Joplin and here is what Humphreys said happened at one of them (click on it to enlarge):
My guess is that, given David Humphreys’ prominence in this state, the political career of GOP chairman John Hancock will come to a hasty end. And although I don’t agree with the politics of Mr. Humphreys, I admire his willingness to fight the bigotry that apparently exists in the bowels of the party he so generously supports.