I have been home feeling very poorly since Wednesday evening, bored and feeling too sick to concentrate on real work. Two things happened while I was filled with self-pity and boredom. The first was, on Thursday morning that Auditor Tom Schweich shot himself and was in the hospital. We soon discovered he was dead. I do not know Tom Schweich at all, and I voted for his first opponent, but I and apparently many others, were shocked that this 54 year lawyer, in his first time politically elected position, and just a month and a half after he announces his candidacy for Governor, would then shoot himself in the head.
Even though I had never met the man, in the few years he served as out auditor, I was impressed. He audited. He went after several agencies. We had a trial in St. Joseph, Missouri around the time the first hint of Schweich's audit of the school district broke. The news was disconcerting, money running out of the school board as if it were running a marathon. No educators or administrators accounting for expenses, going through the bid process, or acting as if they were handling public funds. This was outrageous stuff and heads were going to roll.
When Schweick announced for Governor, he criticized Missouri's self-appointment Little Caesar, Rex Sinquefield, for engaging in bribery, presumably legal bribery nonetheless, for contributing $1,000,000s to candidates and causes with which Mr. Anti-Tax, Anti-Kindness and Anti-Dear Heart would contribute. Reading through the lines, I thought Schweich felt like many, this blatant buying off Missouri government was not just disappointing, but down-right scary. Sinquefiled seems to want to call the shots, and I thought we don't have monarchies here.
But the thing that was the strangest, was the Republican Party leader, John Hancock (really, his parents could not be a little more original?) admitted that he might have told other Republicans that Schweich was Jewish, even though he was Episcopalians with a Jewish father. Hancock claimed he really thought Schweich was Jewish. As a Jew, I wonder why Republican Hancock thinks Schweich being a member of the Jewish faith was significant to his work as a Republican. It feels the same way when men criticize other men by telling them the "throw like a girl." You know it's an insult and you wonder why it's needed. Schweich had a Jewish grandfather, so what?
However, Hancock had riled Schweich up so much the day Schweich died that Schweich had scheduled a press conference to discussion the issue, scheduled for Schweich's home at 2:30 p.m., some 5 hours or so before Schweich died.
There are a lot of things here that make no sense to me. Again, I don't know Schweich and I do not know who does. He may have been very upset, perhaps suicidal. It seems odd, though, that a person would muster the energy to declare a candidacy for the highest office in this state, start campaigning, go to some whatever they go to, hear personal slams, etc., call reports to schedule a press conference that day, and then kill oneself hours before the press conferences and minutes after the conferences were scheduled.
Schweich sure looked good on paper. He was a maverick-y, whistle blower-type. He listened to the beat of a different drummer. I thought those qualities were so refreshing. An auditor who audits he government, who fights greed and corruption for the common good. Ahhh. What a nice thought. I suspect Katherine Hanaway, who I do not know at all, has a particular set of skills that differ from Schweich's. I
I am at a loss because I did not know of Schweich enough to imagine what could have been. But, this weekend, I began watching Season 3 of House of Cards. That was the second event of which I mentioned above. Yikes! For the first time I have more insight into what government can become if there are no checks. Schweich was renowned for fighting corruption. We need those with courage to fight the status quo. We need people like Tom Schweich. I hope no elected officials more mysteriously die.