JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) ā€” The chairman of the Missouri Republican Party mounted a public defense of his reputation Thursday as several state lawmakers called for his resignation over his alleged involvement in an anti-Semitic whispering campaign against a state auditor who killed himself.

GOP Chairman John Hancock said he is not resigning and has been the target of “malicious rumors” from people who believe he was telling Republican donors that former Auditor Tom Schweich, also a Republican, was Jewish.

Schweich fatally shot himself Feb. 26, a month after declaring his candidacy for governor and minutes after telling reporters he was ready to go public with allegations that Hancock had made anti-Semitic comments about him. Schweich was a Christian, but said he had Jewish ancestry.