Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #742 Body Count (Sweet Home Alabama)

Dave Emory’s entire lifetime of work is available on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books available on this site.)

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Introduction: A series of haunting, politically-related deaths in Alabama have been ruled “suicides,” in spite of evidence to the contrary. All of the victims of these so-called “suicides” are linked to what one incisive blog has termed “Karl Rove’s Alabama.”

Bashinsky's Corpse: "Mind if We Play Through?"

Linked to the political skulduggery that appears to have engulfed former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, these deaths exemplify an unpleasant reality that Americans have chosen to ignore: political murder is an established tradition in the United States.

The program reviews the untimely death of former Bush White House IT chief Mike Connell in a plane crash (following death threats against Connell [allegedly made by Karl Rove] and warnings that his plane might be sabotaged.)

Rest in Peace, y'all!

Connell’s testimony in ongoing investigations might have shed light on the theft of the 2000 and 2004 elections, as well as the destruction of White House e-mails. At least five alleged suicides and murders in Alabama involve people connected to the GOP power structure that elevated Governor Bob Riley, a power structure forged by Karl Rove. These deaths also appear linked to the operations of convicted felon Jack Abramoff in Alabama.

The late Charles "Bubba" Major

The late Charles "Bubba" Major

The broadcast relates the incredible circumstances of the death of Major Bashinsky, whose corpse was found dead of a gunshot wound on the bottom of a golf course pond.

  • . . . Authorities say [Major] Bashinsky wrapped rope around parts of his body and attached a bottle that contained a copy of the note they found in his car. He stuck a label from a Golden Flake bag in the roof of his mouth and loosely bound his mouth with duct tape and his hands with rope. He then walked into the [golf course] pond and shot himself. . . .

Bashinsky’s cousin, Charles “Bubba” Major (a former pro at the golf club on whose course Bashinsky’s corpse was discovered) expressed disbelief at the official account of the death:

  • “. . .You probably did not know that I [Charles “Bubba” Major] ran Highland Golf Course for 15 yrs 83-98 and thought it was ironic that they found Major’s body at Highland Golf Course, still have not heard the cause of death, but guess it will come out soon. For the record there is no way the body could have been there several days, without being seen because Hooters had a golf tourney there Sat and had over 120 people going by that pond every 3 minutes. . .”

Major was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound after making the above statement.

The late Ashley Turton

Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ)

After noting the alleged suicides of a couple of former and active FBI agents, the program analyzes aspects of the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, and the mysterious death that same weekend of Ashley Turton, the wife of Dan Turton, Obama’s liaison to the House of Representatives.

Ending with discussion of one of this country’s major political assassinations, the program notes that Sirhan Sirhan has recalled key details of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy under hypnotic regression.

Program Highlights Include: The alleged suicide of Ralph Stacy; the alleged suicide of Bob Caviness; the murder of Zoa White; the possibility of a second suspect in the shooting of Representative Giffords; the possibility that the primary target of the Giffords shooting may have been a federal judge with drug task force experience; a recounting of the “girl in the polka-dot dress”–a key aspect of the investigation into the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy; Sirhan’s hypnotic recollection of a second gun being fired at the Ambassador Hotel; Ashley Turton’s work for Rudy Giuliani’s law firm; that firm’s successful negotiation of the merger of Duke and Progress Energy, to form the world’s largest utility.

1. Beginning with review of the apparent murder of Michael Connell, the broadcast notes his links to the events underlying the investigation into a series of highly suspicious deaths in Alabama.

Connell’s testimony in ongoing investigations might have shed light on the theft of the 2000 and 2004 elections, as well as the destruction of White House e-mails (the scandal surrounding the e-mails overlaps the issue of Rove’s manipulation of U.S. attorneys and the controversy surrounding Don Siegelman in Alabama). Note the reports of Connell having been threatened by Karl Rove.

Michael Connell, the Bush IT expert who has been directly implicated in the rigging of George Bush’s 2000 and 2004 elections, was killed last night when his single engine plane crashed three miles short of the Akron airport. Velvet Revolution (“VR”), a non-profit that has been investigating Mr. Connell’s activities for the past two years, can now reveal that a person close to Mr. Connell has recently been discussing with a VR investigator how he can tell all about his work for George Bush. Mr. Connell told a close associate that he was afraid that George Bush and Dick Cheney would “throw [him] under the bus.”

A tipster close to the McCain campaign disclosed to VR in July that Mr. Connell’s life was in jeopardy and that Karl Rove had threatened him and his wife, Heather. VR’s attorney, Cliff Arnebeck, notified the United States Attorney General , Ohio law enforcement and the federal court about these threats and insisted that Mr. Connell be placed in protective custody. VR also told a close associate of Mr. Connell’s not to fly his plane because of another tip that the plane could be sabotaged. Mr. Connell, a very experienced pilot, has had to abandon at least two flights in the past two months because of suspicious problems with his plane. On December 18, 2008, Mr. Connell flew to a small airport outside of Washington DC to meet some people. It was on his return flight the next day that he crashed.

On October 31, Mr. Connell appeared before a federal judge in Ohio after being subpoenaed in a federal lawsuit investigating the rigging of the 2004 election under the direction of Karl Rove. The judge ordered Mr. Connell to testify under oath at a deposition on November 3rd, the day before the presidential election. Velvet Revolution received confidential information that the White House was extremely concerned about Mr. Connell talking about his illegal work for the White House and two Bush/Cheney 04 attorneys were dispatched to represent him.

An associate of Mr. Connell’s told VR that Mr. Connell was involved with the destruction of the White House emails and the setting up of the off-grid White House email system.

Mr. Connell handled all of John McCain’s computer work in the recent presidential campaign. VR has received direct evidence that the McCain campaign kept abreast of the legal developments against Mr. Connell by reading the VR dedicated website, www.rovecybergate.com. . . .

“Bush Insider Who Planned to Tell All Killed in Plane Crash: Non-Profit Demands Full Federal Investigation”; Yahoo.com; 12/20/2008.

2. The lethality manifesting in Alabama appears to be connected to Karl Rove’s machinations in that state–gambits that apparently resulted in the prosecution of Alabama Governor Don Siegelman on corruption charges, this in the wake of Siegelman’s suspicious defeat in the 2002 elections.

Note, in particular, the presence of Leura Canary and her husband Bill in this scenario. Both names crop up in connection with the events apparently surrounding the violent deaths in Alabama.

Note, also, the violence to which whistleblower Jill Simpson was subjected, after disclosing allegations of Rove’s intention to destroy Don Siegelman politically.

Don Eugene Siegelman (born February 24, 1946) is an American Democratic Party politician who held numerous offices in Alabama. He was the 51st Governor of Alabama for one term from 1999 to 2003. Siegelman is the only person in the history of Alabama to be elected to serve in all four of the top statewide elected offices: Secretary of State, Attorney General, 26th Lieutenant Governor and Governor. He served in Alabama politics for 26 years.
After the expiration of his governorship, two of Alabama’s United States Attorneys began a criminal investigation against him on accusations of corruption while in office. Indictments came in 2004 and again in 2005, and in 2006 he was convicted on corruption charges.[1] Since then there have been counter-accusations by various former attorneys general and officials that his prosecution was intentionally wrongful, engineered by presidential advisor Karl Rove and officials of the U.S. Department of Justice to gain political advantage. . . .

. . . Representative Bob Riley defeated Siegelman’s November 2002 reelection bid by the narrowest margin in Alabama history: approximately 3,000 votes. The result was controversial, as on the night of the election, Siegelman was initially declared the winner by the Associated Press. Later, a voting machine malfunction in a single county, Baldwin County, was claimed to have produced the votes needed to give Siegelman the election. When the malfunction was corrected, Riley emerged the winner. Democratic Party officials objected, stating that the recount had been performed by local Republican election officials after Democratic observers had left the site of the vote counting, thus rendering verification of the recount results impossible.[9] The state’s Attorney General, Republican Bill Pryor, affirmed the recounted vote totals, securing Riley’s election. Largely as a result of this controversy, the Alabama Legislature amended the election code to provide for automatic, supervised recounts in close races. . . .

. . . Siegelman has stated that he wants to see Karl Rove held in contempt for refusing to testify before a House committee that is investigating Siegelman’s conviction.[18] Although Siegelman was convicted, his argument is he may not have been investigated if not for Rove. . .

. . . Witness Nick Bailey, who provided the cornerstone testimony upon which the conviction was based, was subsequently convicted of extortion; upon being given 10 years in prison Bailey cooperated with prosecutors to lighten his own sentence. Although he engaged in over 70 interviews with the prosecution against Siegelman, none of the notes detailing these interviews were shared with the defense. In addition, after the case was tried it was confirmed that the check he testified he saw Scrushy write for Siegelman was actually written days later, when he was not actually present. . . .

. . . Allegations that Siegelman was prosecuted at the insistence of Bush-appointed officials at the Justice Depaontgomery whose husband was Alabama’s top Republican operative and who had for years worked closely with Karl Rove, led federal courts to release the accused on bail.[22] In June 2007, a Republican lawyer, Dana Jill Simpson of Rainsville, Alabama, signed a sworn statement that, five years earlier, she had heard that Karl Rove was preparing to neutralize Siegelman politically with an investigation headed by the U.S. Department of Justice.[23] Simpson later told The Birmingham News that her affidavit’s wording could be interpreted in two ways, and stated that she had written her affidavit herself, whereas in her Congressional testimony she had admitted to having help from a Siegelman supporter.[24]

According to Simpson’s statement, she was on a Republican campaign conference call in 2002 when she heard Bill Canary tell other campaign workers not to worry about Siegelman because Canary’s “girls” and “Karl” would make sure the Justice Department pursued the Democrat so he was not a political threat in the future.[23] “Canary’s girls” supposedly included his wife, Leura Canary, who is United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Alice Martin.[23] Leura Canary did not submit voluntary recusal paperwork until two months after Siegelman attorney David Cromwell Johnson’s press conference in March 2002.[25][26][27]

In interviews with the press, Simpson has emphasized that she heard Rove’s name mentioned in a phone conversation in which the discussion turned to Siegelman, clarified that she heard someone involved in a 2002 conference call refer to a meeting between Mr. Rove and Justice Department officials on the subject of Siegelman, and revealed that Karl Rove ordered her to “catch Siegelman cheating on his wife.”[20] The Anniston Star published an editorial stating that, “If that’s his story, then Rove should not hesitate to go under oath and answer questions before a congressional committee.”[28] . . .

. . . On the other hand, Raw Story reports that Karl Rove advised Bill Canary on managing Republican Bob Riley’s gubernatorial campaign against Siegelman in the election fraud controversy of 2002, based on the testimony of “two Republican lawyers who have asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation,” one of whom is close to Alabama’s Republican National Committee.[29]

Simpson’s house burned down soon after she began whistleblowing, and Simpson’s car was driven off the road by a private investigator[30] and wrecked. As a result of the timing of these incidents, Simpson said, “Anytime you speak truth to power, there are great risks. I’ve been attacked,” explaining she felt a “moral obligation” to speak up. . . .

“Don Siegelman”; Wikipedia.

3. Analyzing those suspicious deaths in Alabama, the program begins by highlighting the alleged suicide of Charles “Bubba” Major.

For the fourth time in roughly a year, a person with ties to Alabama’s corporate/political elites has committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. This time, the deceased had family ties to a man who committed a most public “suicide” in March 2010.

Charles “Bubba” Major died on Monday at age 59, and his funeral will be at 3 p.m. today at Mountain Brook Baptist Church. Bubba Major was a first cousin of prominent Birmingham attorney Major Bashinsky, whose body was found floating in a golf-course pond last March and later was ruled a suicide, a finding we have reported is dubious, at best.

Bubba Major was quoted publicly as saying the story of Major Basinsky’s death did not add up. Now, sources are telling Legal Schnauzer this morning that Bubba Major’s death has been ruled a suicide–and that has been confirmed with today’s post from goodmorningfloridakeys.com, a blog written by Sloan Bashinsky Jr., Major’s older brother.

This brings to four the number of curious suicides in roughly the past year in Alabama, all involving individuals with ties to the state’s conservative ruling elites? We know about Major Bashinsky and Bubba Major. The others are Ralph Stacy, an executive with the Business Council of Alabama, and Bob Caviness, an investigator in the office of former Attorney General Troy King. That list doesn’t include Zoa White, a woman who worked in the Riley administration and was found beaten to death in her Mobile home. That has been ruled a homicide.

Both Major Bashinsky and Bubba Major had roundabout ties to a lawsuit brought by the estate of Sloan Bashinsky Sr. against the Birmingham firm W and H Investments. The “H” stands for William Cobb “Chip” Hazelrig, an entrepreneur with ties to the Alabama gaming community. Hazelrig is a partner in Paragon Gaming, a company headed by Robert Sigler, of Tuscaloosa. Paragon is pursuing a major gambling resort in Canada, and Rob Riley, the son of former Alabama Republican Governor Bob Riley, used to be involved in Paragon.

Bubba Major was known as one of the finest golfers in Alabama and was a long-time member of the prestigious Country Club of Birmingham. And how is this for irony? An Internet search reveals that Bubba Major worked in sales at Southline Steel, a company based in Bessemer, Alabama. Who has a prominent interest in Southline Steel? None other than Chip Hazelrig.

People with ties to the lawsuit styled Estate of Sloan Bashinsky v. W and H Investments have a curious way of turning up as suicide victims. Is that because Chip Hazelrig has ties to Alabama’s Republican machine, built largely by Karl Rove in the 1990s and run by the Riley family in the 2000s? And is this ugliness driven partly because of the GOP’s under-the-table ties to the gambling industry?

We know for sure that Chip Hazelrig took some curious actions last March, while Major Bashinsky was missing. Why would he show up for a visit with Sloan Bashinsky Jr. in Key West, Florida?

What about Hazelrig’s ties to the Alabama GOP? Rob Riley distanced himself from Paragon Gaming only after a contribution from Hazelrig to Bob Riley’s gubernatorial campaign was revealed to have come from someone with ties to gambling. Bob Riley returned the contribution, claiming that he was staunchly anti-gambling, and he went on to launch a crusade against electronic bingo in the last year of his reign as governor.

The Riley family’s public stance on gambling, of course, represents breath-taking hypocrisy. Bob Riley, it has been widely reported, was elected with massive financial assistance from Mississippi Choctaw gaming interests funneled through convicted GOP felon Jack Abramoff. And it has been well documented that Rob Riley has ties to Chip Hazelrig, Robert Sigler, and their gaming interests.

Now, two people with ties to the Bashinsky family, which was seeking an accounting of $37 million invested with Chip Hazelrig’s company, have turned up dead. Both have been ruled a suicide, but we have shown there are significant reasons to doubt the finding in the Major Bashinsky case. The Bubba Major story is in its early stages, but we’ve seen signs that he was concerned about what had happened to his cousin. Did that concern cost him his life? We would not be surprised if the answer is yes. . . .

“Another ‘Suicide’ Darkens the Political Landscape in Karl Rove’s Alabama”; Legal Schnauzer; 3/31/2011.

4. Exhibiting the parameters of the so-called “suicides” in Alabama are the preposterous circumstances of the alleged “suicide” of Charles “Bubba” Major’s cousin Major Bashinsky.

Note that Major was a golf pro at the club where Bashinsky’s body was found. Major felt it was impossible for his cousin’s body not to be discovered. He was found dead roughly a year later.

. . . Authorities say Bashinsky wrapped rope around parts of his body and attached a bottle that contained a copy of the note they found in his car. He stuck a label from a Golden Flake bag in the roof of his mouth and loosely bound his mouth with duct tape and his hands with rope. He then walked into the pond and shot himself.

If he waded into the water, obviously the water was shallow. Being in Alabama in early March, the water probably was not terribly cold. This was on a public golf course where many people come and go. And yet the body remained submerged and unnoticed for roughly 12 days?

I don’t pretend to be a forensic pathologist, but this seems unlikely–and officials gave no indication that the body was weighted down by any object. . . .

. . .You probably did not know that I ran Highland Golf Course for 15 yrs 83-98 and thought it was ironic that they found Major’s body at Highland Golf Course, still have not heard the cause of death, but guess it will come out soon. For the record there is no way the body could have been there several days, without being seen because Hooters had golf tourney there Sat and had over 120 people going by that pond every 3 minutes. . .

. . . Background note: Major’s body was spotted by golfers Monday following the Hooters tournament. He went missing 12 days before his body was found. He was alive most of that time. There was no ransom demand. There was no note to law enforcement or the family or the media. There was only silence. . . .

“Should We Doubt a Finding of Suicide in Major Bashinsky’s Death?”; Legal Schnauzer; 3/25/2010.

5. Bob Caviness was yet another of the mysterious deaths in “Karl Rove’s Alabama.”

An investigator in the office of Alabama Attorney General Troy King recently died under mysterious circumstances, adding to a growing list of suspicious deaths in the final 12 months or so of Governor Bob Riley’s two terms.

Robert William “Bob” Caviness died on November 15 in Alexander City, Alabama, where he lived. Multiple sources have told Legal Schnauzer that Caviness died from a gunshot wound to the head, and his death apparently is being considered a suicide.

Sources also say that Caviness was friends with Ralph Stacy, a Business Council of Alabama (BCA) executive who was found dead in his office in September from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Caviness and Stacy reportedly shared a common faith and both were lay ministers.

An obvious question: Was Bob Caviness investigating his friend’s death and did he get too close to the truth for someone’s comfort?

Another question: Is this toxic environment a natural by-product of efforts by Karl Rove and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to take over Alabama courts in the 1990s–which served as a precursor to the Don Siegelman prosecution and other nasty events in our state?

Caviness was 46 years old, with a wife and two sons. He had worked for the Montgomery Police Department, mostly in drug investigations, for 20 years before going to work for the Attorney General’s Office. . . .

. . . The Caviness case marks at least four suspicious deaths that we know of in 2010, all involving people with some connections to the Riley administration or its activities. Caviness’ boss, Attorney General Troy King, is a Republican and once was a Riley ally. But the two have had a very public and ugly falling out over gambling-related issues. King has stated that electronic bingo generally is legal in Alabama, while Riley launched a crusade to shut down gaming facilities in Alabama.

Eleven lobbyists, legislators, and gaming figures–including the high-profile Milton McGregor and Ronnie Gilley–are under indictment on charges related to gambling legislation. The investigation has been led by U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, a Riley ally and George W. Bush appointee who, inexplicably, has remained in office throughout the Barack Obama administration.

What are the other suspicious deaths? We have written several posts about Major Bashinsky, Zoa White, and Ralph Stacy:

* Major Bashinsky–The 63-year-old son of one of the state’s best-known businessmen was reported missing in early March. About two weeks later, his body was found floating in a golf-course pond on Birmingham’s Southside, and his death was ruled a suicide. His father, the late Sloan Bashinsky Sr., was the CEO of Golden Enterprises, the maker of Golden Flake potato chips and snack foods. In the months leading up to Major Bashinsky’s disappearance, the Estate of Sloan Bashinsky was involved in a lawsuit with W and H Investments of Birmingham, seeking an accounting of some $37 million the elder Bashinsky had invested with the firm–mostly in oil wells. A settlement was approved in the lawsuit on March 1, two days before Major Bashinsky was reported missing. One of the partners in W and H Investments is William Cobb “Chip” Hazelrig, who once had a campaign contribution to Bob Riley returned when it was discovered that Hazelrig was a founding partner of a company called Paragon Gaming. Both Hazelrig and Rob Riley, the governor’s son, had ties to a company called Crimsonica, which is based in Tuscaloosa and run by a man named Robert Sigler.

* Zoa White–A former Riley campaign worker, the 69-year-old White was found dead in her midtown Mobile home on June 28. News reports have said she was beaten to death with a hammer. White had worked in the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) under Bill Johnson, who went from being a member of the Riley administration to one of the governor’s harshest critics. Johnson was so close to White and her family that he helped notify friends about funeral arrangements. Mobile police recently made an arrest in White’s murder, but they have said little about evidence found in the case. The prosecution will be led by Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson, who is commander of Riley’s anti-gambling task force. Suspect Carlos Edward Kennedy has been denied bond in the case and is represented by a court-appointed lawyer.

* Ralph Stacy–He was in charge of strategic communications and was a chief lieutenant to BCA president Bill Canary. Canary, who is Leura Canary’s husband, is a long-time associate of Karl Rove and U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue. Montgomery police have released few details about Stacy’s death, and the Montgomery Advertiser has written almost nothing about it. Stacy was 53, with a wife, Angel, and a daughter, Savannah. Friends and colleagues described him as a jovial man who was a popular public speaker. Before moving under the BCA banner earlier this year, Stacy had served as director of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, which represented the state’s 120 Chambers of Commerce and had some 60,000 dues-paying members. The BCA, with about 5,000 members, reportedly had long coveted the sizable membership over which Stacy ruled.

Is it coincidence that these deaths happened in 2010, as Bob Riley’s term was winding down and the governor was engaged in a high-profile crusade against gambling interests? Is it coincidence that these deaths occurred as questions continued to rise about Riley’s financial support from the Mississippi Choctaw Indians, reportedly laundered through GOP felon Jack Abramoff? Is it a coincidence that Bob Riley has strong ties to Bill Canary, Karl Rove, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce–and Riley’s term is ending amidst a disturbingly high body count? It could be. Is it possible that there is nothing suspicious about any of these deaths?. . .

“Another Mysterious Death Darkens the Political Landscape in Karl Rove’s Alabama”; Legal Schnauzer; 12/21/2010.

6. One of the “suicides” had been harassed by the FBI.

Alabama deputy attorney general before he committed suicide last November–all because the agents mistakenly thought the deputy AG was trying to help gambling magnate Milton McGregor.

Robert William “Bob” Caviness died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on November 15, as FBI agents Keith Baker and John H. McEachren III were conducting a harassment campaign against him, according to a report in The Montgomery Independent. Baker and McEachren were involved in an investigation of McGregor, which led to the ongoing prosecution of 11 individuals connected to gambling-related measures in the Alabama Legislature.

We have reported on the Caviness story as one of several mysterious Alabama deaths that seem connected roughly to the last year of Gov. Bob Riley’s administration. The most recent such death came just last week, when Birmingham businessman Charles “Bubba” Major reportedly committed suicide in Mountain Brook. Major was a first cousin to prominent attorney Major Bashinsky, whose death in March 2010 was ruled a suicide. Bubba Major had expressed doubts about the official circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, which came just days after the settlement in a lawsuit the Bashinsky family brought against an investment firm with ties to the Riley family and the gambling industry.

How did Bob Caviness incur the wrath of the FBI? Bob Martin, editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent, reports:

The Deputy AG, Robert William “Bob” Caviness, was in the process of conducting a background check on an individual with the last name of McEachern, who lived in the Auburn-Opelika area. It was a matter involving worker’s comp fraud.

The Independent was told by the AG’s office that Agents Baker and McEachern became suspicious when they found out through the state’s computer data base that someone in the Attorney General’s office was conducting the search involving McEachern’s name.

“They went ballistic” according to a source at the AG’s office, “and began harassing Bob and accusing him of trying to help Mr. McGregor,” AG officials told us.

What was the fallout?

An internal investigation was conducted by the AG’s office, which, at that time was under the direction of Atty. Gen. Troy King.

The investigation completely cleared Caviness of doing anything improper.

“He was just doing his job but those idiots at the FBI wouldn’t let him alone. They (the FBI) were bound and determined to tie Bob in with trying to help McGregor,” one AG official told our reporters. Baker and McEachern were the agents who arrested McGregor at his home.

Martin reports that the AG’s office confirmed that Caviness’ death was a suicide. But a number of questions remain, in our mind. Did the AG’s office, now under Luther Strange, provide any documents to support the suicide finding? Did the AG’s office conduct an investigation of its own into Caviness’ death?
What about Caviness’ possible ties to Ralph Stacy, the Business Council of Alabama executive who reportedly committed suicide in his office last September. Multiple sources have told Legal Schnauzer that Stacy and Caviness were friends, that they shared a common faith and were lay ministers. . . .

“FBI Harassment Preceded Alabama Official’s Suicide”; Legal Schnauzer; 4/4/2011.

7. Some FBI agents and former agents have also become “suicides” lately, also victims of apparently self-inflicted gunshot wounds. What was he working on?

The FBI wasn’t saying much last week about the suicide of an FBI agent, who shot himself  in the Portland, Maine area over the weekend of April 24, according to sources.

The agent was in his early 50s, one source said.

FBI agent Greg Comcowich, a spokesman for the Boston FBI Division, which includes Maine,  told the ticklethewire.com:

“The type of question which you are inquiring (about)is not something the FBI would comment on.”

Last year, an FBI agent assigned to Quantico committed suicide.

“FBI Agent Commits Suicide in Maine”; ticklethewire.com; 4/27/2011.

8. Another former FBI agent allegdly shot herself to death in the Houston area. What had she been working on?

The body of a missing former FBI agent from Harris County was found Thursday near her car in Waller County just north of Rolling Hills.

Patricia Durney, who had been reported missing the day before, was retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and working in the private sector. Her car was found Thursday morning in a clearing off Wiggins Road, which set off a multi-agency search for her. A law enforcement helicopter and airplane circled the area while law enforcement officers searched on the ground with the air of dogs.

Agents from the FBI, Texas Rangers, Texas Department of Public Safety and Waller and Harris county sheriff offices responded.

“The investigation continues, however the initial investigation does not reveal any evidence of foul play,” the Waller County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Her body has been taken to the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office. Unconfirmed, published reports indicate Durney died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

On Thursday, Sheriff Glenn Smith said they were waiting for crime scene investigators to examine the area to help determine if the death was murder or suicide.

“Body of Former FBI Agent Found in Waller County” by Joe Southern; yourhoustonnews.com; 2/19/2010.

9. The program highlights some of the considerations at the core of the investigation of the shooting Representative Giffords in Arizona. (These will be dealt with at greater length in a future program.)

10. Quite apart from questions as to the ideological motivation of Jared Lee Loughner, the media have quickly dropped reports of a second possible suspect in the case.

. . . With the local sheriff’s office and the FBI investigating, suspicions that the suspected gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, had an accomplice would complicate the thesis that the shooting was the work of a lone and mentally unbalanced young man lashing out at the government. The existence of a co-conspirator could point to a more calculated plot, and perhaps shed more light on the motive for the attack.

“We are not convinced that [the man in custody] acted alone. There is some reason to believe he came to this location with another individual, and that individual is involved,” said Clarence Dupnik, Pima County sheriff, at a press conference Saturday. . . .

“Gabrielle Giffords Case: Second Man Sought in Mass Arizona Shooting” by Cheryl Sullivan; Christian Science Monitor; 1/9/2011.

Ashley Turton Death Car: What do YOU think?

11. A horrifying politically-related death occurred the same weekend that Representative Giffords was shot. The fiery death (murder?) of Ashley Turton, wife of Dan Turton, President Obama’s liaison to the now GOP-controlled House of Representatives received little attention, and was readily dismissed as an unfortunate accident.

Of course, Representative Giffords is a member of that same House of Representatives, due to convene shortly after that deadly weekend.

Was a message being send to the Obama White House?

The car fire that led to the sudden death of Ashley Turton was caused by the impact after a low-speed crash, according to the major crash investigation unit of the Metropolitan Police Department.

“It’s quite possible that the victim was maneuvering the car and came in contact with some kind of flammable chemical materials,” D.C. Fire spokesman Pete Piringer said.

Turton, 37, was the former chief of staff to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and wife of White House liaison to the House of Representatives Dan Turton. She worked as a lobbyist for the Raleigh, N.C.-based utility giant Progress Energy.

Turton was found dead in her car Monday morning, which was discovered ablaze in a row house garage, presumably the Turton home, in the 800 block of A Street Southeast near Eastern Market.

Police said there was a heavy fire in the garage at 4:45 a.m. that caused significant damage to the 2008 BMW X5, which was partially backed out into the driveway and looked singed. Fire damage could also be seen on a corner of the brick home Monday.

When the fire was extinguished, firefighters discovered Turton’s body inside the car. . . .

“Turton Car Fire Caused by Low-Speed Crash, Police Say” by Rachel Blade, Jessica Brady and Ann Palmer; Roll Call; 1/10/2011.

12a. Ms. Turton worked for Rudy Giuliani’s law firm, which had just successfully negotiated the merger of Duke Energy with Progressive Energy, to form the largest U.S. utility.

In the context of Ms. Turton’s lobbying activities, it is important to remember that K Street lobbyists have, as a matter of custom, given generously to both parties. Under the influence of GOP bigwig Grover Norquist, however, lobbyists have increasingly been favoring the GOP. Might Ms. Turton’s work have threatened that dynamic?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is now assisting D.C. Fire and EMS and D.C. Police with an investigation of a deadly fire that killed a key Washington lobbyist.

37-year-old Ashley Turton was killed in a fire as she backed out of her garage early Monday morning.

A spokesman for D.C. Fire and EMS says the ATF routinely helps out on most fire investigations because they bring in valuable resources. At this point, they are evaluating all possible scenarios, but have not determined a cause. Officials are also awaiting an autopsy report to determine the cause of death.

Officials do believe the BMW SUV that Turton was in initially had a low-impact crash which was followed by a fire. The airbags did not deploy.

Investigators say they’re looking at all possible scenarios and are checking the vehicle maintenance records as well as whether the garage door was working. . . .

. . . In the tough world of politics, she made her presence known with her insight and a smile. Turton worked as a lobbyist and had close ties to the White House. But if you talk to friends, she was the exception.

The 37-year-old was one half of a well-known and well-liked Washington power couple who accomplished a lot. Ashley’s husband, Dan Turton, is the point person for the White House when it comes to moving legislation through Congress.

“She never let that change her personality. She was still a very regular person. The kind of person that if you met, you’d would think was a nice person and a smart person, but you wouldn’t necessarily suspect that she had substantial connections to corridors of power,” said Scott Segal, a lobbyist with Bracewell & Giuliani.

From Capitol Hill to K Street, she stood out first as a top staffer on the Hill, then as a lobbyist for Progress Energy. . . .

“Friends Remember DC Lobbyist, Ashley Turton, Killed in Mysterious Fire” by Roby Chavez; myfoxdc.com; 1/13/2011.

12b. More about the Duke, Progress merger:

Merger mania in the utility industry continues with the granddaddy of them all–at least so far. Duke Energy and Progress Energy have announced their intent to merge in a deal that would create the largest utility in the United States and among the largest in the world with a $37 billion market capitalization, $65 billion enterprise value, and $20 billion in revenue. . . .

“Duke, Progress Energy to Create Largest U.S. Utility” by Travis Miller; Toronto Star; 1/10/2011.

13. The program concludes with examination of an aspect of the investigation into the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

Convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan was manipulated by a seductive girl in a mind control plot to shoot Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his bullets did not kill the presidential candidate, lawyers for Sirhan said in new legal papers.

The documents filed this week in federal court and obtained by The Associated Press detail extensive interviews with Sirhan during the past three years, some done while he was under hypnosis.

The papers point to a mysterious girl in a polka-dot dress as the controller who led Sirhan to fire a gun in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel. But the documents suggest a second person shot and killed Kennedy while using Sirhan as a diversion.

For the first time, Sirhan said under hypnosis that on a cue from the girl he went into “range mode” believing he was at a firing range and seeing circles with targets in front of his eyes.

“I thought that I was at the range more than I was actually shooting at any person, let alone Bobby Kennedy,” Sirhan was quoted as saying during interviews with Daniel Brown, a Harvard University professor and expert in trauma memory and hypnosis. He interviewed Sirhan for 60 hours with and without hypnosis, according to the legal brief. . .

. . . The story of the girl has been a lingering theme in accounts of the events just after midnight on June 5, 1968, when Kennedy was gunned down in the hotel pantry after claiming victory in the California Democratic presidential primary.

Witnesses talked of seeing such a female running from the hotel shouting, “We shot Kennedy.” But she was never identified, and amid the chaos of the scene, descriptions were conflicting.

Through the years, Sirhan has claimed no memory of shooting Kennedy and said in the recent interviews that his presence at the hotel was an accident, not a planned destination.

Under hypnosis, he remembered meeting the girl that night and becoming smitten with her. He said she led him to the pantry.

“I am trying to figure out how to hit on her…. That’s all that I can think about,” he says in one interview cited in the documents. “I was fascinated with her looks …. She never said much. It was very erotic. I was consumed by her. She was a seductress with an unspoken unavailability.” . . .

. . . Sirhan maintained in the hypnotic interviews that the mystery girl touched him or “pinched” him on the shoulder just before he fired then spun him around to see people coming through the pantry door.

“Then I was on the target range … a flashback to the shooting range … I didn’t know that I had a gun,” Sirhan said.

Under what Brown called the condition of hypnotic free recall, he said Sirhan remembered seeing the flash of a second gun at the time of the assassination. Without hypnosis, he said, Sirhan could not remember that shot. . . .

“Convicted RFK Assassin Says Girl Manipulated Him” by Linda Deutsch [AP]; Yahoo News; 4/28/2011.

Discussion

7 comments for “FTR #742 Body Count (Sweet Home Alabama)”

  1. One of my favorite underappreciated details in this story:

    The use of anti-gambling FAKE “opponents” by gambling proponents.

    Of course, staged opponents are a tactic as old as political murder. US ally Colombia has been employing Hitler’s old trick, in a major national scandal: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8038399.stm

    But would these same criminals elevate this tactic to plant Vichy political candidates within the political process? Not merely “mystery dud” candidates like South Carolina’s Alvin Greene (the strange, brain-damaged vet candidate who ensured far-right demented Jim DeMint’s victory). But even blackmailed candidates? Or even “Like a Duck In A Noose” hypnosis candidates (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/10/24/national/main526811.shtml)?

    Maybe next time, the next Sirhan could do more damage by running as a Democrat, and then making inexplicable decisions at key moments, while otherwise appearing to behave as a loyal Democrat? Just a far-fetched thought.

    Legal Schnauzer recaps with a recent followup on the 4 killings:

    http://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2011/05/independent-investigation-is-needed-on.html

    Posted by R. Wilson | May 28, 2011, 11:05 pm
  2. @R. Wilson: Very interesting stuff…….thanks for putting it up.

    Posted by Steven | May 29, 2011, 11:21 pm
  3. The Great Grift goes on:

    Salon
    GOP’s “toxic” laundering scheme: How echoes of Jack Abramoff are emerging
    Group of GOP power brokers demonstrates the party’s penchant for fleecing Indian tribes and Christian conservatives
    Heather Digby Parton
    Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014 11:06 AM CST

    If there’s one thing Republicans have learned over the years it’s to never let legalities stand in the way of a good fundraising scam. And one of their best cons ever was Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed’s brilliant scheme to con millions from Indian tribes to run a supposedly religious-based anti-gambling campaign against the tribes’ rivals in order to gain exclusive gambling rights. And even better was the revelation that they were ripping off their own Christian clients as well. What’s not to like? Publicly appeasing religious conservatives at the expense of Indian tribes on behalf of other Indian tribes for whom they have nothing but contempt? It’s beautiful. Only Iran-Contra comes to mind as a similarly elegant illegal scheme.

    Unfortunately for them, the whole thing unraveled when other illegal behaviors involving Abramoff and his cohorts were revealed as part of an ongoing corruption probe by the Department of Justice. The revelation of the emails involving a Mississippi Indian tribe were particularly ugly. Abramoff and his cronies referred to the tribes as “troglodytes,” “monkeys,” “morons” and “f’ing idiots” and laughed at the rubes who were paying them tens of millions of dollars to deliver basically nothing of value. As you would imagine, the tribes were not amused. The religious right groups were defrauded in a different way, by being led to believe that good Christian gentlemen like Abramoff’s buddy Ralph Reed really shared their belief that gambling is a sin only to find out that his activities were actually helping to promote it. (Elmer Gantry was written all the way back in 1927, so it’s not as if this con-man theme is anything new in such circles.) Still, it had to be a disappointment to see one of their young, evangelical stars tarnished with such crude pecuniary corruption.

    The triumvirate of Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist went all the way back to the early ’80s when they were young Republican Revolutionaries. Each in their own way represented one of the big tent poles of the modern conservative movement: Reed was the religious right, Norquist was the no tax pledge, and Abramoff was the big money lobbyist. They were a juggernaut during the Gingrich and Bush eras, pulling together a coalition of small government conservative Christians and wielding tremendous influence in the Republican Party and on Capitol Hill. Norquist managed to keep his hands fairly clean and escaped the denouement, but in the end, Abramoff pleaded guilty to a number of crimes and went to jail as did some others implicated in the schemes. Several politicians lost their seats. Ralph Reed was chastised by the voters of Georgia when he later ran for lieutenant governor and lost decisively.

    So, one might think that as unseemly as the whole episode was, in the end the system worked.

    But it didn’t.

    Yesterday, Politico revealed that the latest GOP group of power brokers, the Republican State Leadership Committee, best known for its hugely successful campaigns around the country to turn statehouses into GOP majorities in order to redraw the congressional maps in their favor, has been running similar schemes as recently as 2010 in the state of Alabama. They reported:

    At the height of its political emergence, the RSLC was implicated in a risky campaign finance scheme that an internal report warned could trigger “possible criminal penalties” and “ultimately threaten the organization’s continued existence,” according to a confidential document POLITICO obtained from a source.

    Never disclosed until now, the document detailed an investigation into alleged misconduct by multiple RSLC officials during the crucial 2010 election cycle: It charged that national RSLC leaders conspired improperly with the leader of the Alabama Republican Party to use the RSLC as a pass-through for controversial Indian tribe donations, essentially laundering “toxic” money from the gaming industry by routing it out of state and then back into Alabama.

    They understood that the Mississippi conservatives don’t approve of Indian tribes and their filthy gambling:

    It is … common knowledge and wisdom in Alabama that taking a contribution directly from the tribe is political suicide for a Republican candidate or public official,” the report stated. “Here RSLC appears to have served as both a recipient of the funds in question and as a donor of the funds back to Alabama, thereby permitting Mike Hubbard to do indirectly that which he could not do directly.”

    They even used some of Abramoff’s old money-laundering services:

    It also sent $100,000 to a group, Citizens for a Better Alabama, that the report describes as “the renamed ‘Citizens Against Legalized Lottery’ (‘CALL’), one of the Christian groups through which Jack Abramoff funneled Choctaw Indian-money.”

    The RSLC reports that the people responsible are no longer with the committee and those who were kicked out say there wasn’t anything illegal about what they were doing anyway, all of which might be true. At the heart of this matter is more of the Southern gothic Mississippi politics we’ve been observing ever since the McDaniel-Cochran primary — a Republican Party in the midst of a ruthless family quarrel. This story indicates that the dimensions of that argument are more complicated than was previously known. It’s falling apart at the seams.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 6, 2014, 2:52 pm
  4. It looks like the apparent suicide of Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, a rising star in Missouri politics with an unusual reputation for being genuinely non-corrupt, is going to be left at that: just a suicide and not something else. And that means the head-scratching over why on earth he shot himself moments ater requesting a newspaper interview is understandably going to be focused on the whisper campaign about Schweich being Jewish. Hence the message from former Senator John Danforth at Schweich’s eulogy today: words can kill:

    TPM Livewire
    Ex-US Senator Calls Out Missouri GOP Leader During Funeral: ‘Words Can Kill’

    By Catherine Thompson
    Published March 3, 2015, 1:07 PM EST

    Eulogies are a celebration of the life of the deceased. But in his remembrance of Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich (R) on Tuesday, former U.S. Sen. John Danforth (R-MO) combined high praise for the dead with forcefully harsh words for the state GOP chairman who has been linked to Schweich’s suicide.

    Speaking at the funeral in Clayton, Mo., for Schweich, who had been a leading Republican gubernatorial candidate until his suicide last week, Danforth addressed head-on an alleged anti-Semitic “whisper campaign”.

    In the days leading up to his suicide on Thursday, Schweich told those close to him that state GOP chairman John Hancock had been off-handedly telling people he was Jewish even though he attended an Episcopal church.

    “Tom called this anti-Semitism, and of course it was,” Danforth said during the eulogy on Tuesday, as quoted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.. “The only reason for going around saying that someone is Jewish is to make political profit from religious bigotry.”

    Hancock repeatedly denied the accusations of anti-Semitism. But he acknowledged last week to the Post-Dispatch that he thought Schweich was Jewish, and so might have mentioned as much to another person in the way one might say, “I’m Presbyterian and somebody else is Catholic.”

    Danforth is himself an ordained Episcopal priest who officiated former President Ronald Reagan’s funeral. He scoffed at Hancock’s suggestion that he might have called Schweich a Jewish man merely in passing without mentioning him by name.

    “Someone said this was no different than saying a person is a Presbyterian,” the former senator said, as quoted by the Post-Dispatch. “Here’s how to test the credibility of that remark: When was the last time anyone sidled up to you and whispered into your ear that such and such a person is a Presbyterian?”

    The politics of the Republican gubernatorial primary leading up to Schweich’s sudden death were pretty nasty. Danforth said that contentious intra-party climate was proof that “politics has gone so hideously wrong,” adding that “the death of Tom Schweich is the natural consequence of what politics has become.”

    The former senator then brought up a radio ad that an outside political action committee with ties to Schweich’s primary opponent had been running against him. Danforth described the ad, which mocked Schweich’s appearance and cast him as a corrupt pawn of Democrats in Washington, D.C., as “bullying.”

    “We often hear that words can’t hurt you … well how about anti-Semitic whispers?” Danforth said. “And how about a radio ad that calls someone a ‘little bug,’ and that is run anonymously over and over again?”

    “Words do hurt. Words can kill,” he added. “That has been proven right here in our home state.”

    Those were some strong words from former Senator Danworth on the state Missouri’s politics and there were a lot more strong words in his full eulogy, including a call to fundamentally change the vicious nature of Missouri’s politics:

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    Danforth’s eulogy for Tom Schweich: ‘Words do hurt. Words can kill.’

    3/3/2015 • By John C. Danforth

    (The following are remarks prepared for delivery by former U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth at the funeral Tuesday for state Auditor Thomas A. Schweich at The Church of St. Michael and St. George in Clayton. They have been lightly edited.)

    Blessed are the poor in Spirit.

    Blessed are those who mourn.

    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

    Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.

    Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you on my account. Amen.

    Kathy, Emilie, Thomas. We who cared so much for your husband and your dad enfold you in our love, just as our Lord enfolds you and Tom in his love. We want you to know that we are with you to offer whatever strength and comfort we can.

    Tom Schweich was an exceptionally able public servant. He graduated from Harvard Law School, and spent most of his career as a trial lawyer, meticulously marshaling facts and mastering the law in complex litigation involving government contracts.

    Half a dozen years ago, Tom told me he wanted to run for public office. His first thought was the U.S. Senate but he finally decided on state auditor. He was a person easily hurt and quickly offended, and I told him I didn’t think he had the temperament for elective politics, but Tom didn’t easily accept advice, and he was offended by mine. It was his decision, and he was my friend, and I was for him, whatever he chose to do.

    He ran, won election, and became universally acknowledged as a great auditor, zealously uncovering corruption, attacking sloppiness whether of Democrats or Republicans, and praising good work where he saw it. He was so successful that he faced no serious opposition for his second term.

    Tom was the model for what a public servant should be. He was exceptionally bright, energetic and well organized. He was highly ethical, and like the indignant prophets of Biblical times, he was passionate about his responsibility for righting wrongs.

    We spoke often about the calling to public service, and what we said was always the same. The objective should be always to take the high ground and never give it up.

    I last spoke with Tom this past Tuesday afternoon. He was indignant. He told me he was upset about two things, a radio commercial and a whispering campaign he said were being run against him. He said the commercial made fun of his physical appearance and wondered if he should respond with his own ad.

    But while the commercial hurt his feelings, his great complaint was about a whispering campaign that he was Jewish. And that subject took up 90 percent of a long phone call. This was more than an expression of personal hurt as with the radio ad, this was righteous indignation against what he saw as a terrible wrong. And what he saw was wrong is anti-Semitism.

    He said he must oppose this wrong, that he must confront it publicly by going before the media where he would present several witnesses. He said that they would verify that there were several times when the rumor had been spread.

    Tom called this anti-Semitism, and of course it was. The only reason for going around saying that someone is Jewish is to make political profit from religious bigotry. Someone said this was no different than saying a person is a Presbyterian. Here’s how to test the credibility of that remark: When was the last time anyone sidled up to you and whispered into your ear that such and such a person is a Presbyterian?

    Tom told me of his Jewish grandfather who taught him about anti-Semitism, and told him that anytime Tom saw it, he had to confront it. So Tom believed that that was exactly what he must do.

    There was no hint by Tom that this was about him or his campaign. It was about confronting bigotry.

    I told Tom that it is important to combat any whiff of anti-Semitism, but I said that he should not be the public face of doing that. I told him that if he were to go public, the story would be all about him, and not about the evil he wanted to fight. I said that I was concerned about his political future, that his focus should be on winning election as governor, and that the best approach would be to have someone feed the story to the press and let the press run with it.

    Tom said that the press would only run with the story if he went public, and that if he didn’t make an issue out of anti-Semitism, no one would.

    That was the phone call, except at the end he seemed angry with me.It’s impossible to know the thoughts of another person at such a dire time as suicide, but I can tell you what haunts me. I had always told him to take the high ground and never give it up, and he believed that, and it had become his life. Now I had advised him that to win election he should hope someone else would take up the cause.

    He may have thought that I had abandoned him and left him on the high ground, all alone to fight the battle that had to be fought.

    I think there are two messages in this, one for Tom’s children, the other for the rest of us.

    Emilie and Thomas, always be proud of your father. He has left you a legacy, a tradition to take up in your own lives. You will have to be very brave to do this, as he was brave, and it will require energy and devotion to the task, as he was energetic and devoted to his task. The legacy your father has passed on to you is this: to fight for what is right; to always seize the high ground and never give it up.

    The message for the rest of us reflects my own emotion after learning of Tom’s death, which has been overwhelming anger that politics has gone so hideously wrong, and that the death of Tom Schweich is the natural consequence of what politics has become. I believe deep in my heart that it’s now our duty, yours and mine, to turn politics into something much better than its now so miserable state.

    Sure, politics has always been combative, but what we have just seen is combat of a very different order. It used to be that Labor Day of election years marked the beginning of campaigns.

    This campaign for governor started two years in advance of the 2016 election. And even at this early date, what has been said is worse than anything in my memory, and that’s a long memory. I have never experienced an anti-Semitic campaign. Anti-Semitism is always wrong and we can never let it creep into politics.

    As for the radio commercial, making fun of someone’s physical appearance, calling him a “little bug”, there is one word to describe it: “bullying.” And there is one word to describe the person behind it: “bully.”

    We read stories about cyberbullying, and hear of young girls who killed themselves because of it. But what should we expect from children when grown ups are their examples of how bullies behave?

    Since Thursday, some good people have said, “Well that’s just politics.” And Tom should have been less sensitive; he should have been tougher, and he should have been able to take it.

    Well, that is accepting politics in its present state and that we cannot do. It amounts to blaming the victim, and it creates a new normal, where politics is only for the tough and the crude and the calloused.

    Indeed, if this is what politics has become, what decent person would want to get into it? We should encourage normal people — yes, sensitive people — to seek public office, not drive them away.

    There is no mystery as to why politicians conduct themselves this way. It works. They test how well it works in focus groups and opinion polls. It wins elections, and that is their objective. It’s hard to call holding office public service, because the day after the election it’s off to the next election, and there’s no interlude for service. It’s all about winning, winning at any cost to the opponent or to any sense of common decency.

    The campaign that led to the death of Tom Schweich was the low point of politics, and now it’s time to turn this around. So let’s make Tom’s death a turning point here in our state.

    Let’s decide that what may have been clever politics last week will work no longer. It will backfire. It will lose elections, not win them.

    Let’s pledge that we will not put up with any whisper of anti-Semitism. We will stand against it as Americans and because our own faith demands it. We will take the battle Tom wanted to fight as our own cause.

    We will see bullies for who they are. We will no longer let them hide behind their anonymous pseudo-committees. We will not accept their way as the way of politics. We will stand up to them and we will defeat them.

    This will be our memorial to Tom: that politics as it now exists must end, and we will end it. And we will get in the face of our politicians, and we will tell them that we are fed up, and that we are not going to take this anymore.

    Well that was definitely a great eulogy by Tom Schweich’s mentor John Danforth. And you can’t really argue with him when he says things like:

    Since Thursday, some good people have said, “Well that’s just politics.” And Tom should have been less sensitive; he should have been tougher, and he should have been able to take it.

    Well, that is accepting politics in its present state and that we cannot do. It amounts to blaming the victim, and it creates a new normal, where politics is only for the tough and the crude and the calloused.

    Indeed, if this is what politics has become, what decent person would want to get into it? We should encourage normal people — yes, sensitive people — to seek public office, not drive them away.

    Sure, politics is always going to be filled with some degree of nastiness given what’s often at stake. But that question Danforth raises really gets the heart of one of the biggest cancers facing not just American democracy but political establishments everywhere: “Indeed, if this is what politics has become, what decent person would want to get into it?” It’s a great question and let’s hope Danforth’s calls for cleaning out the nastiness from Missouri’s politics is part of the answer.

    But it’s also going to be important to include more than just the bullying campaigning tactics used we want to see more decent people entering public office, as Tom Schweich was well aware of. You’re also going to have to get rid of the bullies’ big money backers:

    The Kansas City Star

    Losing Tom Schweich: A setback for reform as a brave voice is stilled in Missouri

    By BARBARA SHELLY

    02/28/2015 12:15 PM

    02/28/2015 12:44 PM

    Before his apparently self-inflicted death on Thursday, Tom Schweich was the Missouri political establishment’s worst nightmare.

    He wasn’t part of it and he couldn’t be drawn in. He loathed it, in fact. The wining and dining. The enormous campaign donations. The way lobbyists and political operatives and out-of-state groups write laws and set policy and turn the citizens of Missouri into just bystanders to the establishment’s games.

    Schweich knew the establishment. He’d spent four years watching it as state auditor.

    He’d seen a citizen ballot initiative torpedoed by the profligate spending of the payday loan industry — a group that Schweich reviled because of its exploitation of the poor.

    He’d watched his own proposed legislation crash into the jutted rocks of a powerful lobby. Schweich had wanted the General Assembly to require school districts to save money by seeking competitive bids on bond underwriting. The bond companies swooped in like sharks for the kill.

    In particular, Schweich abhorred what he called “the Sinquefield machine.” He accused Rex Sinquefield, the retired investment banker from St. Louis, of undermining democracy in Missouri by giving candidates millions of dollars and bankrolling a vast political apparatus to impose his “free market” will on the state.

    Schweich was right about all of that and he intended to make his case as he ran for the Republican nomination to be governor of Missouri.

    But Schweich was a flawed messenger. He was volatile, prone to fits and outbursts. He took things too personally.

    Schweich’s opponents in the political establishment knew this, of course. And they knew that one outburst, caught on camera, would drive a stake through Schweich’s campaign.

    Why else produce the bottom-feeding radio ad that hit the airways days before the Missouri Republican Party’s annual meeting last weekend in Kansas City?

    The ad was paid for by an incongruously named group called “Citizens for Fairness in Missouri.” Its treasurer is Seth Shumaker, a Kirksville, Mo., lawyer once suspended for unprofessional conduct.

    Until recently the treasurer was James C. Thomas III, a Kansas City lawyer with close ties to campaign consultant Jeff Roe. Roe is working for Catherine Hanaway, a Republican candidate for governor who has received more than $1 million from Sinquefield.

    In other words, the Missouri political establishment at work.

    The ad ridiculed Schweich’s appearance, called him a weak candidate and said he could “be manipulated,” a lie that was sure to get the auditor’s blood boiling.

    That ad was produced for an audience of one — Tom Schweich. It was designed to provoke a blowup, although certainly not in the way events played out.

    Before last week, Schweich seemed to be at the top of his game. But he left the Kansas City meeting distraught about the Missouri Republican Party’s selection of John Hancock as its chairman. Schweich believed Hancock was falsely telling people he was Jewish. Hancock has denied that.

    With a year and a half to go until the 2016 Republican primary, it was clear that running for governor of Missouri was going to be a nasty business.

    Schweich was a fragile candidate who held out a shining hope — that Missouri politics and government can be better than they are. I don’t know if he could have been elected, or how good a governor he would have been. I just know that many of us who are sickened by what goes on in Jefferson City cherished that hope and appreciated the man who carried it.

    As the article puts it, “That ad was produced for an audience of one — Tom Schweich. It was designed to provoke a blowup, although certainly not in the way events played out.” And it sure looks that way.

    And as the article also pointed out, it was “the Missouri political establishment at work” and that establishment basically works for one guy at this point: Rex Sinquefield, a multimillionaire that moved back Missouri in 2005 after a four decade absence with all sorts of fancy ideas about how cutting his taxes and privatizing the schools are what Missouri needs. And with those ideas came money. Lots of money. And lots more bad ideas:

    PRWatch
    Show Me the Money: Meet the Multimillionaire Squeezing Missouri’s Schools

    — by Brendan Fischer and Lisa Graves, The Progressive

    You’ve probably heard of the billionaire Koch Brothers by now, and their sinister push to distort our democracy. But you may not have heard of Rex Sinquefield.

    Unlike the Koch Brothers, who made their money the old-fashioned way, by inheriting it, Sinquefield is a self-made man, who earned a fortune in the stock market by investing in index funds.

    He’s a major funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and he has also bankrolled the Club for Growth.

    Though he was born in Missouri, he didn’t move back there until 2005, after being away nearly four decades.

    Now he claims to know how to “fix” the state. To an astonishing degree, over the last few years, Missouri’s political landscape has been dominated by the wish list of just this one man.

    Sinquefield is doing to Missouri what the Koch Brothers are doing to the entire country. For the Koch Brothers and Sinquefield, a lot of the action these days is not at the national but at the state level.

    By examining what Sinquefield is up to in Missouri, you get a sobering glimpse of how the wealthiest conservatives are conducting a low-profile campaign to destroy civil society.

    Sinquefield told The Wall Street Journal in 2012 that his two main interests are “rolling back taxes” and “rescuing education from teachers’ unions.”

    His anti-tax, anti-labor, and anti-public education views are common fare on the right. But what sets Sinquefield apart is the systematic way he has used his millions to try to push his private agenda down the throats of the citizens of Missouri.

    Our review of filings with the Missouri Ethics Commission shows that Sinquefield and his wife spent more than $28 million in disclosed donations in state elections since 2007, plus nearly $2 million more in disclosed donations in federal elections since 2006, for a total of at least $30 million.

    Sinquefield is, in fact, the biggest spender in Missouri politics.

    In 2013, Sinquefield spent more than $3.8 million on disclosed election-related spending, and that was a year without presidential or congressional elections. He gave nearly $1.8 million to Grow Missouri, $850,000 to the anti-union teachgreat.org, and another $750,000 to prop up the Missouri Club for Growth PAC.

    However, these amounts do not include whatever total he spent last year underwriting the Show-Me Institute, which he founded and which has reinforced some of the claims of his favorite political action committees. The total amount he spent on his lobbying arm, Pelopidas, in pushing his agenda last year will never be fully disclosed, as only limited information is available about direct lobbying expenditures. Similarly, the total amount he spent on the PR firm Slay & Associates, which works closely with him, also will not ever be disclosed. These are just a few of the tentacles of his operation to change Missouri laws and public opinion.

    Even more revealing is how Sinquefield behaved when Missouri was operating under laws to limit the amount of donations one person or group could give to influence elections. In order to bypass those clean election laws, he worked with his legal and political advisers to create more than 100 separate groups with similar names. Those multiple groups gave more, cumulatively, than Sinquefield would be able to give in his own name, technically complying with the law while actually circumventing it. That operation injected more than $2 million in disclosed donations flowing from Sinquefield during the 2008 election year, and it underscored his chess-like gamesmanship and his determination to do as he pleases. (Sinquefield is an avid chess player.)

    Shortly after that election, the Missouri legislature repealed those campaign finance limits, with his backing. Those changes benefited Sinquefield more than anyone. As a result, in 2010, Sinquefield made disclosed political donations more than ten times greater than what he spent in 2008.

    His disclosed election spending reveals that he is focusing his efforts on remaking Missouri’s legislature and laws. But in 2012 he did make some federal donations, including $1 million to the Now or Never PAC, plus $100,000 to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads PAC, plus small sums to almost every Republican presidential candidate that year. Sinquefield also gave money to some extreme Congressional candidates, including Michele Bachmann, Todd Akin of the infamous “legitimate rape” quote (after the other candidate Sinquefield backed lost in the primary), and Ted Cruz.

    In Missouri, Sinquefield’s strategy has been to focus on a few issues dear to him.

    First, he spent lavishly to try to prohibit some cities in the state from imposing an income tax. He shelled out more than $11 million underwriting the “Let Voters Decide” ballot proposition in 2010, which won by a two-to-one margin. He spent about $8.67 a vote.

    The proposition required Kansas City and St. Louis to hold a referendum on whether to keep the municipal income tax in 2011, and every five years after that. To Sinquefield’s dismay, in April 2011, citizens voted overwhelmingly to keep taxing themselves, with 78 percent in favor in Kansas City and 87 percent in St. Louis.

    But he hasn’t given up.

    Now Sinquefield is trying to do away with the 6 percent state income tax. Doing so would enrich him personally, since the investment firm he co-founded still manages more than $200 billion in investments, some of which he may still own. Plus, if the business is ever sold, he stands to make a windfall.

    To help replace lost revenue from the income tax, Sinquefield favors an increase in the sales tax (and a broadening of it to include such things as child care). A study he commissioned also recommends increased taxes on “restaurants, hotels, cigarettes, and beer,” while “shift[ing] the major tax burden from companies and affluent individuals,” like Sinquefield. And it recommends selling off the public’s assets, like the St. Louis airport, trading a short-term infusion of revenue in exchange for giving for-profit corporations access to decades of revenue.

    He doesn’t want an increase in property taxes. Can you blame him? He has a 22,000-square-foot house on an estate of hundreds of acres in the Missouri Ozarks, and another home in St. Louis worth at least $1.78 million, replete with a private elevator. He also owns a lot of cars, including a 2008 Bentley Continental Flying Spur that retailed for $170,000.

    Sinquefield’s taxation proposals would necessitate cuts in the state’s provision of services many people take for granted as part of living in a modern, civil society: public education, public libraries, and other public goods.

    Sinquefield did not respond to a request for comment on this article.

    Nowhere are Sinquefield’s destructive intentions clearer than in his campaign against public education.

    “I hope I don’t offend anyone,” Sinquefield said at a 2012 lecture caught on tape. “There was a published column by a man named Ralph Voss who was a former judge in Missouri,” Sinquefield continued, in response to a question about ending teacher tenure. “[Voss] said, ‘A long time ago, decades ago, the Ku Klux Klan got together and said how can we really hurt the African American children permanently? How can we ruin their lives? And what they designed was the public school system.’ ”

    Sinquefield’s historically inaccurate and inflammatory comments created a backlash from teachers, public school advocates, and African American leaders, who called it “a slap in the face of every educator who has worked tirelessly in a public school to improve the lives of Missouri’s children.”

    The statement would be easy to write off as buffoonery if it didn’t come from Sinquefield, who has poured millions from his personal fortune into efforts to privatize education in the state through voucher programs and attacks on teacher tenure.

    The jewel in his privatization crown is the Missouri-based Show-Me Institute, a rightwing think tank that receives just shy of $1 million every year from the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. Its tag line is a mouthful: “Advancing Liberty with Responsibility by Promoting Market Solutions for Missouri Public Policy.”

    Harry Truman, Missouri’s favorite son, once observed: “Wall Street, with its ability to control all the wealth of the nation and to hire the best law brains in the country, has not produced some statesmen, some men who could see the dangers of bigness and of the concentration of the control of wealth. . . . They are still using the best law brains to serve greed and self-interest. People can stand only so much, and one of these days there will be a settlement.”

    In Truman’s own Missouri today, Rex Sinquefield epitomizes “the dangers of bigness and of the concentration of the control of wealth.” Whether there will be a settlement is up to the citizens of the Show-Me State.

    So that the multimillionaire bully that Missouri’s GOP has basically sold itself out to, with the notable exception of Tom Schweich. And since we’re since in the age of the ascending oligarchs, all indications are that his grip on Missouri is only going to grow. After all:

    Shortly after that election, the Missouri legislature repealed those campaign finance limits, with his backing. Those changes benefited Sinquefield more than anyone. As a result, in 2010, Sinquefield made disclosed political donations more than ten times greater than what he spent in 2008.

    Yep, he just pushing through tax cuts for himself and then plows even more money into the next election to cut them even more! Nice work if you can get it.

    So if you’re an uncorrupted Republican that’s thinking about running for office but don’t actually want to see your state run by a one really really rich guy that’s convinced tax cuts for the rich and tax hikes for the poor are the solutions to Missouri’s troubles, what are you going to do? Are you really going to want to go up against the Sinquefield machine? Especially now?

    How does entire state that’s been politically bullied succumbed to what is now years political domination and bullying by a powerful individual with an army of well-paid operatives that includes some of the highest elected officials in the state? It won’t be easy, but Stockholm syndrome doesn’t solve itself so something is going to have to change. Let’s hope Tom Schweich’s extremely untimely death can be that catalyst for change.

    And since the Missouri GOP apparently just bullied to death someone that was quite possibly the most honest GOP official in the state of Missouri, let’s hope that change involves electing a lot fewer Republicans in Missouri. And elsewhere.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 3, 2015, 8:24 pm
  5. Brad Friedman points us towards a new study comparing the integrity of elections across in 107 countries based on the observations of some 1,400 international election experts was just released. Guess where the US falls in the rankings: at #26, right behind Mexico.

    But it could be worse! Because it is. You see, the US score is probably artificially inflated. Why? Because the study was “technology neutral”, which means it didn’t factor in terrifying reality that about the third of the US still uses unverifiable electronic voting machings:

    Salon
    America’s election nightmare: How voter ID, gerrymandering & fundraising made us a laughingstock
    Here’s what happens when you suppress votes, draw districts to favor incumbents and allow the rich to buy elections
    Brad Friedman
    Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015 10:35 AM CST

    This post originally appeared on The BRAD BLOG.

    Electoral integrity has not improved in the U.S. over the past year, according to a new study. In fact, elections in Mexico now have more integrity than ours, the new survey, based on the observations of some 1,400 international election experts, finds.

    Last year we reported: “A report [PDF] by researchers at Harvard and the University of Sydney finds the U.S. ranks just 26th on a global index of election integrity. That finding places the U.S. in the category of nations with ‘Moderate’ election integrity, ranking the country one notch above Mexico and one notch below Micronesia, according to the findings tracking elections in 66 countries.”

    Well, bad news — of a sort. This year’s new Election Integrity Project report [PDF] is now out. It takes into account the 2014 mid-term elections in the U.S. and more elections in a number of additional countries. It appears the U.S. has fallen a few pegs from it’s 26th place ranking in last year’s report [emphasis in the original]…

    [C]ontests in the United States scored the worst performance among any long-established democracy. Hence the 2012 Presidential elections was ranked 42nd worldwide, while the 2014 mid-term Congressional races was ranked 45th, similar to Colombia and Bulgaria. One reason is that experts expressed growing concern over US electoral laws and processes of voter registration, both areas of heated partisan debate.

    To make matters worse, the survey fails to examine the effects of vote-casting and counting technology on the integrity of elections. But, while the new report highlights what appears to be a huge drop in U.S. election integrity since last year’s study, with our most recent national elections now ranked just worse than Mexico’s and slightly better than those in Barbados, it’s not all as bad as the plummeting ranking would seem to suggest…

    Broader data this year

    The Electoral Integrity Project’s report is based on input from election experts worldwide, examining “all national parliamentary and presidential elections held in independent nation-states (with a population of more than 100,000).”

    The previous report, the group’s first, covered “73 national parliamentary and presidential contests held worldwide in 66 countries from 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2013.”

    The new one, however, surveys a larger number of countries and several more election cycles in them, covering “127 national parliamentary and presidential contests held worldwide in 107 countries from 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2014.”

    So with more countries (now 107, rather than 66) and more elections (now 127, rather than 73) graded by the experts, the overall rankings have changed a bit.

    Where the 2012 U.S. Presidential election was rated in last years report as having only “moderate” integrity, by the study’s benchmark, the 2014 Congressional elections in the U.S. slipped a bit lower.

    “The number of elections has expanded,” project leader Pippa Norris of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government explained to The BRAD BLOG via email, “so it isn’t clear whether there has actually been a fall. Better to say that the 2014 US midterms were ranked slightly lower than the 2012 presidential elections.”

    Each election cycle in each country is graded by the experts in the study. That input is placed into a 100-point index and then a comparative ranking based on 49 different indicators in 11 different stages of elections, such as Electoral Laws, Electoral Procedures, Voter Registration, Media Coverage, Campaign Finance and Voting Process.

    The index is compiled in the survey into a “Perception of Electoral Integrity” (PEI) index. The 2012 Presidential election in the U.S. scored a 70.2 PEI. By that measure, it was ranked just just behind Micronesia’s 2013 legislative election. The new score for the 2014 Congressional elections in the U.S. slipped to 69.3, one notch in the rankings ahead of Colombia and just behind both Barbados and Mexico.

    Where the 2012 Presidential election ranked 26th overall in the previous report, that same election now ranks 42nd among the larger sample. Our Congressional election ranked 45th.

    U.S. elections ‘relatively poor’

    According to the new report, the project’s “concept of ‘electoral integrity’ refers to international standards and global norms governing the appropriate conduct of elections.”

    Some forty domestic and international experts were consulted about each election covered in the report, reflecting the views of 1,429 election experts.

    The study finds “Elections in United States stand out as relatively poorly ranked by experts compared with other established democracies, deserving further scrutiny.”

    For similar reasons offered in last year’s report, when the studies’ experts rated the overall PEI of the 2012 Presidential election, “The November 2014 Congressional elections got poor grades because experts were concerned about the electoral laws, voter registration, the process of drawing district boundaries, as well as regulation of campaign finance.”

    The study cites U.S. voter registration, “in particular”, as a concern. It cites new laws regarding access to the polls as “increasingly polarized and litigious…ever since the 2000 ‘Florida’ debacle, generating growing controversy in state-houses and the courts.”

    “America also suffers from exceptionally partisan and decentralized arrangements for electoral administration,” according to the study, which finds that recent Supreme Court decisions “suggest that the role of money in American politics deserves more detailed scrutiny.”

    What about the machines?

    While the study examines a number of aspects during the “Vote Count” stage of elections, such as whether or not ballot boxes are “secure”; whether results are announced “without undue delay”; whether votes are “counted fairly”; and whether or not international and domestic election monitors are restricted, the survey fails to examine specific methods of vote casting and counting and the effect that may have on reported election results.

    As The BRAD BLOG has spent more than ten years documenting, the method used for vote casting and counting — and, with it, the electorate’s ability to oversee the accuracy of the count — this is no small matter. How votes are cast and tabulated can have an extraordinary effect (positively or negatively) on both the accuracy of elections as well as confidence in reported results.

    Computerized voting systems — such as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machines — are 100% impossible to verify for accuracy after polls have closed. Yet, they are still used in about one-third of the country, and elsewhere around the world.

    Hand-marked paper ballots can be examined after an election, but most jurisdictions in the U.S. tally those ballots by computerized optical-scan systems which either report results accurately or not. Without a human examination of those paper ballots — only sometimes allowed in the rare event a recount — it’s impossible to know whether results have been accurately tallied and reported.

    By way of just one recent example, which citizens happened to notice, a November 2014 referendum in a small Wisconsin town, tallied by a computerized optical-scan system last year, reported only 16 votes cast by some 5,350 voters. Luckily, the problem was so obvious, attributed to a programming error by a local election official, it was too ridiculous to be overlooked. The correct results were eventually determined by publicly hand-counting the hand-marked paper ballots.

    But what of malfunction or malfeasance in vote counts that are not so easily discovered, thanks to a lack of human-verified results? For example, a computer optical-scan system in Palm Beach County, FL announced the “winners” of four different elections incorrectly in 2012. Only a sharp-eyed election official and an eventual court-sanction hand-count determined that three of four of the originally announced “winners” were actually the losers of their races. In New York’s 2010 elections, thousands of ballots were inaccurately tallied by op-scan systems, though the failure was not publicly confirmed until 2012.

    Those are just a few of the scores (if not hundreds) of similar reports we’ve covered over the years. And, of course, the accuracy of results from DRE systems can never be discovered at all. Jurisdictions that use them should clearly have their rankings penalized by the Election Integrity Project, whose report is subtitled “Why elections fail and what we can do about it”. But so should jurisdictions which do not verify results or allow citizens to do so themselves. Additionally, the effect that such systems have on overall confidence in the results of elections, and subsequent interest by citizens in participating in them, should not be overlooked.

    On this point, Harvard’s Norris explained to us that their study is “technology neutral” and does not factor in such elements. “We don’t ask questions about specific types of technologies, in part because this varies from place to place,” she said.

    While she correctly notes that “many countries don’t use electronic technologies in balloting,” she did not seem particularly receptive to the point that the way in which votes are cast and tabulated (and whether that count can be overseen by the public and known to be accurate) is a key aspect of electoral integrity. Her responses confirmed that those elements are only cursorily analyzed in the report by the very generalized questions regarding whether “Ballot boxes were secure” and if “Votes were counted fairly”, and, perhaps, the question regarding whether “election monitors were restricted”. (Naturally, if those monitors are unable to see inside a computer as to whether a vote is tabulated accurately, that would seem to be a very severe “restriction” on monitoring the most important point of the process.)

    “There is no reason to assume a priori that vote counts using electronic or paper ballots are necessarily more honest or accurate,” she says. That’s a point we would vigorously dispute, even if only in the perception of accuracy, and the negative effect that unverified tallies have on confidence in elections and, thus, election integrity itself.

    Norris adds: “The expert survey is only one component of the larger project and data collection. For example, we have another related project looking at public opinion towards electoral integrity.”

    Just imagine the look on Brad Friedman’s face when he was told by one of the leaders of the study that:

    “There is no reason to assume a priori that vote counts using electronic or paper ballots are necessarily more honest or accurate,” she says. That’s a point we would vigorously dispute, even if only in the perception of accuracy, and the negative effect that unverified tallies have on confidence in elections and, thus, election integrity itself.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 4, 2015, 10:38 am
  6. Here’s more on the suicide of Missouri auditor Tom Schweich: Schweich’s wife was on the phone with Martha Fitz, a family friend and assistant to John Danforth, right at the moment he shot himself.:

    TPM Livewire
    Aide Reveals Stunning Details Of The Moment Guv Candidate Killed Himself

    By Catherine Thompson
    Published March 6, 2015, 12:12 PM EST

    A Republican aide shed more light Thursday on the moments leading up to the suicide of a leading candidate for Missouri governor, an event that has torn the state party apart in recent days.

    Martha Fitz, a friend of Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich’s (R) family, revealed that she was on the phone with Schweich’s wife on the morning of Feb. 26 when the auditor shot himself at their family home.

    Fitz, an assistant to former U.S. Sen. John Danforth (R-MO), detailed in a written statement the shocking sequence of events from that morning, which was reported by the Associated Press on Thursday.

    According to Fitz’s statement, the events began that morning when the auditor’s chief of staff, Trish Vincent, called to inform her of Schweich’s distraught emotional state.

    Fitz soon left a voicemail for Schweich’s wife, Kathy, and received a call back at about 9:40 a.m. She said she spoke briefly with Kathy before the auditor got on the phone.

    “He spoke solely about his outrage concerning the rumors that were being spread about his religion and how he should respond to those rumors,” Fitz said, as quoted by the AP. “I told him I thought it was best to let others stand up for him.”

    Fitz said Schweich “then threatened to kill himself” and handed the phone back to his wife.

    “Seconds later, I heard Kathy say, ‘He shot himself!'” Fitz said.

    Fitz said that she’d related her account to Clayton, Mo. police, who are investigating Schweich’s apparent suicide, according to the AP.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 6, 2015, 6:40 pm
  7. The alleged whisper campaign against former Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich continues to take its toll: Schweich’s spokesman, Spence Jackson, just showed up dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound:

    TPM Livewire
    Aide Mysteriously Found Dead Month After Missouri GOPer’s Suicide

    By Catherine Thompson
    Published March 30, 2015, 8:47 AM EDT

    Police said an aide to late gubernatorial candidate and Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich (R) was found dead Sunday of an apparent suicide.

    Police found Schweich spokesman Spence Jackson dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at about 7 p.m. in his apartment, according to a media release issued Monday morning by the Jefferson City Police Department.

    “Physical evidence at the scene, along with an examination of the apartment, did not indicate any signs of forced entry or struggle, but Detectives began a full investigation with the assistance of Patrol personnel to canvas the area and contact those who knew Jackson,” the release read. “This investigation is still an open investigation, and no details regarding findings will be released as of yet.”

    Jackson’s apparent suicide came a little more than a month after Schweich took his own life..

    The spokesman had been the first person to publicly call for the resignation of Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock over allegations that he’d been telling people Schweich was Jewish, even though the late auditor was an Episcopalian. Hancock has denied that he carried out a so-called “whisper campaign” about Schweich’s faith.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 30, 2015, 7:03 am

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