Tom Schweich’s death is a loss for Missouri

Tom Schweich one month ago was about to announce his candidacy for governor.
Tom Schweich one month ago was about to announce his candidacy for governor. The Associated Press

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich was a dedicated public servant and a person of honor and integrity. His death on Thursday, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, is a tragedy for his family and the state.

Schweich, who was elected auditor on the Republican ticket in 2010 and re-elected in November, handled his duties in a scrupulously fair and nonpartisan manner. He was tenacious about looking for waste, fraud and corruption. One of his final audits was a scathing report on malfeasance in the St. Joseph School District.

Schweich, 54, announced in January he would run for governor in the Republican primary. His announcement was good news for Missourians who had hoped to see a campaign centered on the state’s problems with political influence and corruption.

Schweich was deeply offended by the ease with which monied interests can manipulate government in Missouri. In his kickoff announcement, Schweich pledged to especially make an issue of St. Louis financier Rex Sinquefield’s prolific political spending and attempts to make a mark on state policy.

“You can’t get anything else done until you clean up the corruption,” he said during a campaign stop in Kansas City.

Schweich was right about that, and as the auditor he was ideally positioned to make the argument. His death will make it much harder to have that discussion.

In his job and on the campaign trail, Schweich always seemed to be in a hurry. He moved quickly and talked fast, often going “into the weeds” about issues he cared about.

“I am a little geeky, I’ll admit that,” he told supporters in January. “Don’t you think Missouri will appreciate a hard-working, highly qualified geek in the governor’s mansion?”

Schweich’s death stunned Jefferson City. Legislators and others gathered in the House chambers for a prayer service Thursday shortly after Schweich’s office confirmed his passing.

Schweich was married and had two children. His death serves as a heartbreaking reminder that a public presence does not always reflect one’s inner condition.

Rest in peace, Tom Schweich.