A month ago Spence Jackson’s boss, Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, died from what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound. On Monday, police confirmed that Jackson had shot himself in an apparent suicide — marking a second, stunning jolt to Missouri politics.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Slightly more than a month after Tom Schweich, Missouri’s auditor and a candidate for governor, took his own life, Spence Jackson, a longtime Republican spokesman who worked for Schweich, appears to have done the same.
In a statement Monday, Jefferson City police said officers found Jackson dead Sunday night in the bedroom of his home here, only miles from the state Capitol.
A police spokesman, Capt. Doug Shoemaker, said Jackson, 44, probably died of “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.” An autopsy would be conducted Monday, Shoemaker said, but investigators were reviewing Jackson’s death as a suicide. Jackson was found with a .357 Magnum revolver and a single spent round, though the police had no record of his owning a gun.
Shoemaker said the police found a note at Jackson’s home but would not release its contents.
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Jackson had been one of the many Republican players involved in the saga surrounding his former boss’ suicide. Schweich died in late February after shooting himself at his home in suburban St. Louis.
Schweich’s supporters have argued that a brutal campaign for governor, accompanied by what Schweich, an Episcopalian, believed to be an anti-Semitic attack against him led by John Hancock, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, had contributed to his death. Hancock has denied the allegations, but Jackson — just moments after Schweich’s funeral last month — was one of the first to call for his resignation as chairman.
The governor’s race had pitted Schweich against Catherine Hanaway, a St. Louis lawyer who had served as a federal prosecutor and was the first woman to be speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives. After a monthlong suspension of her campaign, Hanaway was back on the campaign trail over the weekend, participating in a number of Republican events in southwest Missouri.
Hanaway’s ties to Hancock run deep, as do her connections to a Kansas City-based consulting firm that had produced for an outside group a campaign commercial that disparaged Schweich’s physical appearance. Hanaway’s campaign is also contracting work to that firm, Axiom Strategies.
In an interview last week, Hanaway attempted to distance herself from those involved in the negative campaign but stopped short of calling for Hancock’s resignation or parting with Axiom.
The death of Schweich has roiled Republicans here, and a number of other potential candidates have emerged, including John Brunner, a St. Louis businessman and a former candidate for U.S. Senate, and Eric Greitens, a former member of the Navy SEALs and a best-selling author.
The police in Jefferson City said they had reached out to law-enforcement officials in Clayton, where an investigation had taken place into Schweich’s death. Shoemaker said the police were “very aware of the political issues” surrounding Jackson and Schweich, and said they were issues “we’re clearly interested in.”
Jackson was last heard from Friday, Shoemaker said. It was not until Sunday evening, however, when Jackson’s mother — who could not reach him all weekend — traveled to Jefferson City from southwest Missouri to try to find her son that the police were sent to his home to check on him.
When the police reached Jackson’s home, there was no response at the door. Shoemaker said a property manager at Jackson’s apartment provided a key to officers, at which point they found Jackson dead. Investigators said they believed Jackson killed himself “early in the weekend.”