St. Louis, MO – The man who, so far, is the only person to be identified as hearing the anti-Semitic “whisper campaign” that State Auditor Tom Schweich alleged Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock was perpetrating against him before his death, told The Missouri Times that he has never personally spoken to John Hancock, but did have a conversation with Hancock’s brother-in-law, Peter Christy, where a statement he deemed anti-Semitic was used.
Before a planned press conference last Tuesday, Schweich told The Missouri Times that a supporter named Kevin Childress of Kansas City, who worked with Christy would be corroborating his claim that Hancock was telling Republicans that he was Jewish in an effort to harm his campaign.
Today, Childress explained what he told Schweich.
“I had one conversation with John’s brother-in-law last summer where Peter told me that the crowd in St. Louis that John ran with were saying that Tom was Jewish,” Childress said. “That is what I told Tom.”
A member of the state committee, Sara Walsh, said she heard the rumors while people were lobbying for her vote for party chairman, so she looked into it herself and spoke with Childress.
“Several people who weren’t candidates for chairman contacted me encouraging me not to vote for John Hancock because of allegations that he made anti-Semitic comments and one person even said there were signed affidavits proving it,” Walsh said. “When I asked for proof I was put in contact with Kevin Childress, who told me that John’s brother-in-law told him that John told him that Tom Schweich was Jewish, but was careful to tell me it was hearsay.”
But Christy — who worked for Childress at My Freight World until he resigned on February 7th — denies having the conversation with Childress. “I never said that to Kevin. Kevin told me that the Hanaway people were anti-Semitic. I had never discussed Tom Schweich with John until his death.”
Hancock has previously stated that he may have mentioned that Schweich was Jewish, but never did so with any malicious intent, and has denied being part of any “whisper campaign.”
The Missouri Times confirmed that Childress hasn’t signed an affidavit about this conversation with Christy, but that he was upset when led to believe such remarks were being made, in part because Childress himself believed for a time that Schweich was Jewish, and he believes Schweich knew of others with similar stories that were to come forward after the press conference.
Since Hancock announced his candidacy, there had been rising tension with Schweich. Schweich and Hancock spoke late last year, where Hancock promised to be neutral if elected party chairman, but admitted he would vote for Hanaway on Election Day. This followed a phone call between Hancock and Trish Vincent where she suggested he end his campaign for party chair over the alleged whisper campaign.
The budding feud was stoked when Hancock was overwhelmingly elected party chairman, and the very next committee vote was to unseat Vincent from her post as committee vice-chair.
Sources inside the Schweich campaign have told The Missouri Times that senior advisors and prominent supporters on a conference call the Tuesday before Schweich’s death felt that there was “something shady” going on but were urging him not to go public in a press conference. Schweich’s most prominent supporter, Senator Danforth, who was not confirmed to be on the call, has stated he advised Schweich not to hold a press conference, but later regretted discouraging him.
During his homily, Senator Danforth also criticized the ad that ran around the Republican Lincoln Day event paid for by a third party committee not directly linked to Schweich primary opponent Catherine Hanaway. Some have questioned whether or not her largest supporter, Rex Sinquefield, contributed to the committee to pay for the advertisement. Sunday, on This Week in Missouri Politics, Travis Brown categorically stated that no money from Sinquefield went to the committee.
Since Schweich’s suicide, the party has been largely silent on the allegations of the whisper campaign. Senator Danforth gave a homily at Schweich’s funeral, which has been incorrectly described as a eulogy, calling for fundamental changes in Missouri politics and Representative Paul Fitzwater has called on Hancock to resign the chairmanship he won in a landslide just over two weeks ago.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.