And With That Key Resignation, The Lincoln Project Is Over

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Posted: Feb 13, 2021 12:00 AM
And With That Key Resignation, The Lincoln Project Is Over

Source: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

WARNING: This post contains some graphic language.

In the words of Saint Morrison, “This is the end.” The Lincoln Project has come crashing down. It’s done. It’s finished. The group was supposedly a "country first" operation made up of principled conservatives determined to defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election. There was talk about character and all, but the irony is that as more details come out about this operation — the more Trump sounds like a saint. I’m not kidding. We have stories of sexism and toxic work environments. It's a trainwreck.

Then, the sexual harassment scandal from one of their co-founders, John Weaver, engulfed LP which led to its eventual demise. Weaver sent a series of highly inappropriate messages to dozens of young men. Some of the men he contacted were underage at the time. The initial contact may not have been lurid, but still part of a pattern of behavior that is not acceptable by any social standard. When did the rest of this crew know about Weaver? We don’t know, but it appears the principals knew a lot longer than they're letting on, which is something many already have deduced given the meltdown that has ensued.

Co-founder Steve Schmidt said he found out in January about the Weaver allegations. He was not specific at all, and former LP staffers have alleged Schmidt knew a long time ago about Weaver's behavior. This week, it was announced that Schmidt was resigning from the group. Virtually the entire founding core of this operation has walked away. It’s all over — and thank God for that (via Axios):

Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt is resigning from the group's board amid a series of scandals that has rocked the high-dollar anti-Trump super PAC, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Schmidt, a veteran Republican operative, is the latest and most high-profile departure from the group, which is reeling from revelations that another co-founder, John Weaver, used offers of professional advancement in a series of attempts to solicit sex from young men.

…Schmidt's resignation comes amid a wave of damaging stories for the Lincoln Project.

The New York Times reported last month on allegations from 21 men that Weaver sent them unsolicited and sexually charged messages. One was 14 years old at the time, according to the report.

Multiple people have reportedly been contacted by federal law enforcement regarding the alleged conduct. The Lincoln Project said it has hired an external law firm to conduct an investigation into the matter.

The AP reported that the majority of the $90 million that the Lincoln Project has raised was paid to consulting firms tied to the group's founders and senior staff.

And Schmidt was quick to scrub this venture off his resumé, appearing on "Real Time with Bill Maher" where he wasn’t even introduced as a co-founder of the Lincoln Project. Maher also pressed him on the money and fundraising aspect of the Lincoln Project because there some questions concerning the mountains of cash that flowed in, with many saying it confirms their allegations of this operation being a masterclass in politics grift. Maher also wondered how effective the Lincoln Project was given that the GOP is firmly behind Trump. Schmidt reacted to Maher’s line of questioning by saying he simply didn’t care how many Republicans voted for Trump. Well, then what exactly did you do here, chief? Also, not true. Schmidt is also no longer a Republican. In fact, anyone who ever worked for this crew shouldn’t consider themselves as such. They all got rich becoming prostitutes for the Democratic Party. They made their bed (via Daily Beast):

“I’m not here to prosecute you,” Maher said to Schmidt. “AOC said Lincoln Project—that’s your project, which ran a lot of great ads… she said you were in ‘scam territory.’ I don’t know. I liked the ads.”

“I think we built the most successful super PAC in American political history. We turned it into a movement, and I think we did tremendous damage to Donald Trump,” Schmidt replied.

But Maher wasn’t having it. “If that’s true, why did he do six percentage points better with Republicans than in 2016. He got 94 percent of Republican votes and 88 percent the first time.”

“I think that, you know, sometimes they say things at the beginning and they take on the aura of gospel. We were trying to win the election. I really didn’t give a shit how many Republicans were voting for Trump or not,” claimed Schmidt.

Well, that’s not entirely true. In a Dec. 2019 New York Times op-ed announcing The Lincoln Project, co-founders Schmidt, George Conway, John Weaver, and Rick Wilson wrote: “Our efforts are aimed at persuading enough disaffected conservatives, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in swing states and districts to help ensure a victory in the Electoral College…”

And then there's the work environment at LP, which appears to be rife with sexism, toxicity, and all-out civil war between its executive leadership. People seem afraid to speak out, noting that the principals at the Lincoln Project go “nuclear” with their retaliatory measures against those who "undermine the public image" of LP. Is this the mafia or something? (via The 19th News):

The organization is facing a rapidly escalating controversy over allegations that another of its co-founders, John Weaver, sexually harassed more than a dozen young men, including some working for the project, and over what other members of senior management knew about the claims and when they knew it.

The accusations have roiled the organization, and as its current and former employees and contractors began coming forward to discuss them, they described a workplace where women in key positions were sidelined and where sexist and homophobic language was used by those in leadership posts.

In reporting a story over the past several weeks about the Lincoln Project’s management, culture, finances and handling of the Weaver allegations, The 19th interviewed nearly two dozen individuals currently or formerly associated with the group or familiar with its operations.

Nearly all of them said they feared speaking publicly about their experiences with the Lincoln Project and its remaining co-founders. Many cited their tendency to “go nuclear,” as several put it, when faced with internal dynamics that could undermine the public image they cultivated with their liberal fans.

[…]

A three-person board … was created without input from some of the other co-founders. Eventually, disputes over that board, and its scope, led to bitter infighting that involved individual co-founders lawyering up and threatening one another with “oppo” research, Washington speak for the type of negative information amassed by a political campaign or organization to use against a rival.

[…]

Another point of internal financial contention was the donor information that Lincoln Project amassed with ads that spread across social media. The specifics over who or which entity would own the data was not negotiated in advance, sources said, and the data’s market value grew as more and more people gave.

A frequent quip from Schmidt overheard by multiple people was that the Lincoln Project was his vehicle to achieve “generational wealth.”

As senior management squabbled over how to divide the pieces of the project’s financial pie, dissatisfaction was growing within the organization’s more junior ranks, which were made up of largely young and liberal staffers who said they had different standards than some of the group’s leaders, citing Schmidt and Wilson specifically. There was language used in both the Lincoln Project’s ads and within its workplace about gender and sexuality that made many of them uncomfortable, the dozens of interviews revealed. 

Young men were “wizards” while young women were “girls.” Political rivals were “pussies” or “cocksuckers” or “faggots.” By the time the staff convened in Park City, the situation had become so “toxic,” according to more than a dozen accounts, that at least two co-founders, neither of whom remain at the project, had tried unsuccessfully to intervene to improve working conditions.

Staff had also complained that some of the project’s ads, specifically some related to Ivanka Trump, were sexist.

The publication noted the lack of women in leadership positions and that the few women who held such positions often got cut out of the decision-making process and were straight-up ignored. These were the people who were going to conserve conservatism, huh? Sounds like a sweatshop for a bunch of crybabies who couldn’t adapt to the party’s very blue-collar/populist infusion into the ranks of the base. Their advice wasn’t needed. They bet against the populist moment — and lost. So, they decided to make money in other ways. Well, you reap what you sow. No one is truly sad to see these guys go. They’re bullies, egomaniacs, and overall vile people who have allegedly made even some of their top donors afraid to pull the plug out of fear of what retaliation they may face.

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In the end, they may have won the battle regarding Trump and the 2020 election, but they lost the war. The Lincoln Project is over. The era of Trumpism has only just begun.

Oh, and John Weaver is reportedly being investigated by the FBI for some of the communications he sent to younger men. Talk about character, huh fellas?