Several top leaders of the anti-Trump Super PAC, the Lincoln Project, were aware of sexual harassment allegations against one of its co-founders, John Weaver, as early as last March, the 19th reported Tuesday.
The news raises serious questions about the Lincoln Project’s handling of the controversy, especially considering the organization claimed in a statement last month that it was “shocked” when the allegations started surfacing.
Critics now allege that the organization covered up the allegations so as not to distract from its efforts to boot former President Donald Trump from the Oval Office.
Weaver, a longtime establishment Republican strategist who advised the late Sen. John McCain and former Gov. John Kasich before going on to launch the anti-Trump political operation, admitted in January to sending “inappropriate” sexually suggestive messages to multiple young men over the course of his career in politics.
Weaver’s admission followed public accusations from several young men — a number now totaling at least 21 — similarly recalling how Weaver demonstrated grooming behavior by sending unsolicited sexually charged messages often alongside promises of career advancement. One of the accusers was a 14-year-old boy who claims Weaver asked him about his body.
The veteran operative, who is married to a woman and has two children, announced he is gay in a statement and apologized to the young men he harassed, saying he thought at the time the exchanges were “consensual mutual conversations.”
The Associated Press previously reported the organization’s leadership was informed about at least 10 specific allegations of harassment against Weaver last June, including two involving Lincoln Project employees. The informers detailed the allegations in writing and in subsequent phone calls to the Super PAC’s leaders.
That also stands in contrast to the Lincoln Project’s statement, which declared that “at no time was John Weaver in the physical presence of any member of The Lincoln Project.”
On Monday, the Lincoln Project told the 19th it had hired outside counsel to conduct a “comprehensive review of our operations and culture.” Embroiled in controversy, the organization has also hastily released current and former employees from nondisclosure agreements.
“We are committed to creating a positive, diverse, and inclusive workplace environment at The Lincoln Project and inappropriate behavior by anyone associated with the organization will not be tolerated under any circumstances. We have already taken decisive action to address internal concerns,” co-founder Reed Galen told the progressive outlet.