Missouri GOP aide's suicide adds intrigue to that of his former boss

The suicide of Missouri auditor's spokesman rattles state Republican Party

A suicide note left by a media director for Tom Schweich, the Missouri state auditor who took his own life in February, was released Tuesday at the family’s request in an effort to quell speculation about his death.

Police found the body of Spence Jackson in his Jefferson City, Mo., apartment over the weekend after family members were unable to contact him.

“I’m so sorry, I just cannot take being unemployed again,” Jackson wrote in the suicide note, which was dated Friday.

His death came almost exactly one month after Schweich fatally shot himself. The death of Schweich, a prominent 2016 GOP gubernatorial candidate, stunned many of the state’s top elected officials, leaving the Missouri Republican Party rattled. Jackson’s suicide has only added to the political turmoil.

Jackson, 44, who police said died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, was still employed by the Missouri auditor’s office. He had called in sick Thursday, the four-week anniversary of his boss’ death, and on Friday went home early, police said.

Jefferson City Police Capt. Doug Shoemaker said Tuesday that Jackson’s family wanted the contents of the note made public. “There’s been a lot of reports and speculation; they wanted to get this out there,” he said.

Schweich was only weeks into his official campaign for governor when he killed himself Feb. 26. Moments earlier, he had set up an interview at his home with the Associated Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, according to those news organizations.

At the time, the Post-Dispatch said Schweich had told the paper’s editorial page editor that he believed John Hancock, the newly elected chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, was spreading false information that Schweich was Jewish.

Hancock has denied allegations of what many have called a “whisper campaign,” saying only that it was possible he had mentioned in passing that Schweich was Jewish, though it was not in a “derogatory manner.” Hancock is supporting former federal prosecutor Catherine Hanaway for governor.

Although his grandfather was Jewish, Schweich was a member of the Church of St. Michael & St. George, an Episcopal congregation in Clayton, Mo.

After Schweich’s death, Jackson became a vocal critic of Hancock and called for his resignation as the state’s Republican leader.

For years, Jackson held prominent roles in the Missouri Republican Party. According to his LinkedIn page, Jackson began working in the auditor’s office in May 2011. Before that he was a communications director for a community health center in Springfield.

Police in Jefferson City and Clayton have been in contact as they investigate Jackson’s death, law enforcement officials said at a Monday news conference.

Hancock used Twitter on Monday to offer condolences. “Tragic news this morning,” Hancock wrote. “My heart goes out to Spence Jackson’s friends and family. Very, very sad.”

Former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, for whom Jackson once worked, issued a statement calling him a “gifted communicator.”

“Over his career he served as chief spokesman for three of Missouri's statewide offices including that of the governor when I held that post,” Blunt said. “Spence was hard-working, well-liked and quick-witted. He will truly be missed. We mourn his passing and offer our prayers to his family and friends.”


Twitter: @kurtisalee


Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


7:32 p.m.: The story was updated throughout with new details.

12:48 p.m. The story was updated with information on Jackson's work history. 

The story was originally published at 12:09 p.m.