JEFFERSON CITY • Kansas City political consultant Jeff Roe acknowledged Wednesday that he funded the radio ad that ridiculed the late Tom Schweich's appearance and ran shortly before Schweich committed suicide.
In his first public statement on the ad since Schweich's death Feb. 26, Roe said he has "always been a personal donor to political ideas that I believe in, and this year was no different."
Roe said he ran the ad because he was "defending my candidate that I have known, respected for decades and believe will be the best governor for Missouri" -- former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, a Republican from St. Louis County.
Hanaway and Schweich, the state auditor, were competing for the GOP nomination for governor next year. Roe's firm, Axiom Strategies, is managing Hanaway's campaign.
Even so, Roe said Hanaway had no knowledge of the anti-Schweich ad before it ran. Hanaway, too, has denied knowing of the ad.
The ad was sponsored by Citizens for Fairness in Missouri, a committee that the Post-Dispatch reported in March was a front used by Roe.
The ad portrayed Schweich as a weak candidate who resembled Barney Fife, the deputy sheriff in the Mayberry television series of the 1960s. The announcer's voice mimicked that of a character in the Netflix television show, House of Cards.
After Schweich killed himself in his Clayton home, some Republicans contended that the ad was aimed at rattling Schweich, who had a tendency to take things personally.
Roe said on Wednesday that he viewed Schweich as a "tough competitor" and as "the man who took on Afghanistan druglords and sent people to prison for stealing from taxpayers."
A campaign finance report filed by Citizens for Fairness on Wednesday says that on Feb. 19, Roe donated $5,000 to the committee through Chester White LLC, a limited liability company that he said he solely owns.
The $5,000 went to Smart Media Group LLC of Alexandria, Va., which placed the media buy at radio stations around the state.
Roe's direct mail firm, Candidate Command LLC, produced the ad for $3,250, and Citizens for Fairness has not yet paid that bill, the report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission shows.
As a result of the controversy, Roe, a key strategist for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, said in his statement that he "will no longer be making individual contributions to the governor's race, either indirectly or directly."