Dan Clevenger, mayor of Marionville, where Frazier Glenn Miller had lived nearby for several years, said Wednesday that Miller years ago shaped his negative view of Jewish people.
Clevenger acknowledged making racist comments regarding Jews in the past, but while backing away from those statements on Wednesday made additional questionable remarks.
Clevenger, 59, acknowledged writing a letter-to-the editor about 10 years ago to the Aurora Advertiser that included:
"I am a friend of Frazier Miller helping to spread his warnings. The Jew-run medical industry has succeeded in destroying the United States' workforce."
Clevenger said Wednesday that at the time he wrote the letter he was heavily influenced by Miller, who for decades espoused racist views and is accused of killing three people near Kansas City.
Clevenger said he once considered Miller a friend, but no longer does, since Miller has been charged with murder.
In reference to the letter to the editor, he said he no longer believes that "the Jews run government."
"I don't think the government is run by Jews," he said. "We are still a democracy. Sure there are Jews in government. I mean, Nancy Pelosi, she is a Jew. And she brags about it." (Pelosi is not Jewish. She is Roman Catholic.)
He was asked if it bothered him that Pelosi brags about being Jewish.
He said no.
He was asked if he considered himself an anti-Semite.
He said no.
Clevenger said he does not back down from his earlier beliefs that Jews have played a role in hurting the American economy.
"This country is dead," Clevenger said. "I hate to say that. We have a fake economy, high unemployment. Fuel prices are high. We don't have no industry. All the factories have left.
"The futures market, the Federal Reserve, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health — ever time I see that on the news, there are Jewish names and they run things," he said.
Clevenger was interviewed in his small-engine repair shop that sits at the end of a dead end road in the city of Marionville, population 2,225, southwest of Springfield. A fleet of rider mowers in various stages of disrepair filled his front yard. A sign in his shop says: Labor, $32 an hour.
He had just finished fixing a man's weed whacker.
Clevenger said that it was Miller who had pointed out the connections between federal agencies and Jews.
"I started seeing in the newspapers and on TV the Jewish names over in Wall Street and Washington, where the problem is," he said.
He mentioned the crucial role that the international investment firm of Goldman Sachs, based in New York City, plays in shaping the national economy. Clevenger pointed out that "Goldman" and "Sachs" are both Jewish names.
Clevenger was asked if religion or his interpretation of the Bible has played a role in his views on Jewish people.
"I am not much on the Bible," he said. "I am not too good at reading that and interpreting the Bible."