Politics & Government

Cruz strategist criticized for connection to Missouri tragedy

Jeff Roe, chief strategist for the presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is coming under scrutiny for an ad that upset a Missouri GOP official who committed suicide last month.

Missouri state auditor Tom Schweich, who was a GOP candidate for governor, took his life Feb. 26 after the campaign against him had taken a negative turn.

Roe, founder of Axiom Strategies, a Kansas City-based political consulting firm, was behind “a mocking radio commercial,” in the governor’s race, according to the Kansas City Star.

“The ad, aired in Kansas City and other markets, suggested state auditor and GOP candidate Tom Schweich was a “bug” and compared him with bumbling TV character Barney Fife,” said the Star.

The 60 second radio ad disturbed Schweich, who also complained about a whispering campaign by the GOP state party that he was Jewish. His father and grandfather were Jewish but he was Episcopalian.

Schwiech’s friend, former Sen. Jack Danforth, R-Mo., an Episcopalian minister, delivered the eulogy at his funeral, and said, “ Words can kill.” He is demanding the removal of Missouri GOP chairman John Hancock and has also been sharply critical of Roe.

In an email to the Star, Danforth said of Roe, “We should disassociate ourselves from anyone who conducts this sort of campaign.”

According to the Axiom website, Roe has helped elect 31 congressmen and four U.S. senators nationwide. He was also a consultant to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign.

The Cruz campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Compounding the tragedy, Schweich’s communications director Spence Jackson was found dead Sunday night, also an apparent suicide.