MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO (KTVI) - The chief of staff for the late Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich spoke out Wednesday for the first time since he committed suicide. Trish Vincent described a conversation she had with the now Missouri State republican Party Chairman John Hancock in December.
She said Hancock had called her asking for her support in his race for party chairman. "I told him I could not support him for chair because he was telling people Tom was Jewish, "she said. Then she described Hancock's response as "I was but I'm not anymore.' I responded I don't know why you would be doing that and he had no response."
Vincent discussed her call with Hancock during a radio interview with KTRS host McGraw Millhaven.
John Hancock issued a statement saying "her claim that I knowingly told others Tom was Jewish is untrue. As I have said consistently, I have no recollection of discussing Tom's religion with anyone."
Schweich was a practicing Episcopalian, but his grandfather was Jewish.
Former Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones says fellow Republicans aren't the only ones supporting Hancock.
Jones noted, "People from the right, the left and the center many folks all across the political spectrum have stepped forward to vouch for his credibility."
"I'm convinced he's a man of integrity, not a bigot, not a racist, not a malicious person," Jones said.
Vincent declined to answer questions for FOX 2 and did not say during her interview on KTRS how many people told her that John Hancock had described Mr. Schweich as Jewish. Schweich had recently launched a campaign for governor and had criticized his opponent in the primary race Catherine Hanaway for accepting a 1 million dollar campaign donation from one donor.
Vincent said she wants Tom Schweich remembered for the right things. Jones agreed saying citizens should focus on the public service auditor Schweich delivered to the state and nation not an intra-party dispute.