Recent suicides by two Missouri state politicians have raised questions on state ethics, according to an NPR report Thursday.
Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich was a top candidate for the Republican Party’s pick for Missouri Governor. However, Schweich killed himself in February.
And last month, Spence Jackson, Schweich’s press secretary also took his own life.
According to the NPR report, Schweich launched his campaign against Missouri’s Republican Party establishment and was doing well in the polls when the 54-year-old died.
Some friends and family say attack ads caused Schweich to take his own life.
Former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth said that Schweich thought John Hancock, the Missouri Republican Party Chairman, mounted a political smear campaign against him.
Following Schweich’s death, Jackson, Schweich’s press secretary, demanded Hancock resign.
Roughly one month later, Jackson also died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“This story doesn’t add up. What’s missing here? What would cause two prominent Republicans to take their lives?” said University of Missouri political science professor Marvin Overby in the NPR interview. “I don’t think it would be the prospect of not being the Republican nominee for governor.”
“Tom Schweich publicly attacked what he thought was corruption in state government, and within a month of that, he was dead,” said Danforth. “Spence Jackson publicly called for the resignation of John Hancock, and within a month of doing so, he was dead.”
Danforth hopes the suicides of both men will encourage voters to re-examine ethics and the political landscape.