JEFFERSON CITY – A prominent Republican donor stepped forward Thursday to back up assertions that Missouri's GOP chairman had made negative remarks about the religion of the state auditor, who killed himself amid perceptions he was the target of an anti-Semitic whispering campaign.

Republican businessman and donor David Humphreys released a signed affidavit saying Republican consultant John Hancock, who later was elected head of the party, told him on Nov. 24 that Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich was Jewish.

"The meaning I took from Mr. Hancock's statement and tone of his comments was clear: He (Tom Schweich) is Jewish – in case you didn't know – and that being Jewish is a negative attribute for Tom Schweich's gubernatorial race," Humphreys said in the affidavit.

Humphreys is the first person to publicly attest to hearing such comments from Hancock.

Hancock said Thursday that he had met with Humpheys at the businessman's Joplin office to discuss Republican Party fundraising efforts, but he denied saying anything about Schweich's religion.

"It didn't happen," Hancock said.

Paul Mouton, a Republican Party insider who is acquainted with both Hancock and Humphreys, said he also was at the Nov. 24 meeting. His recollection backs up Hancock's account.

"I did not hear him say anything about Tom Schweich being Jewish," Mouton told the AP.

Schweich fatally shot himself Feb. 26 at his home in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, just a month after declaring his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor. The shooting occurred minutes after Schweich told an Associated Press reporter that he was ready to go public with allegations that Hancock had made anti-Semitic remarks about him.

Schweich had Jewish ancestry but attended an Episcopal church.