After the New York Times reported last month on allegations that co-founder John Weaver sent sexual, unsolicited messages to 21 men — including a boy who was 14 — and offered personal or professional favors in exchange for sex, the Lincoln Project responded that they were “shocked” by the revelations. (For his part, Weaver apologized for “messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time.”) But new reporting today from the Associated Press would seem to cast doubt on how “shocked” they could’ve been. Per the wire service (emphasis mine):
In June 2020, members of the organization’s leadership were informed in writing and in subsequent phone calls of at least 10 specific allegations of harassment against co-founder John Weaver, including two involving Lincoln Project employees, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the situation. The email and phone calls raise questions about the Lincoln Project’s statement last month that it was “shocked” when accusations surfaced publicly this year. It’s also the first known suggestion that Weaver targeted a Lincoln Project staffer.
Despite the early warning, the group took no action against Weaver and pressed forward with its high-profile work. For the collection of GOP consultants and former officials, being anti-Trump was becoming very good for business. Of the $90 million Lincoln Project has raised, more than $50 million has gone to firms controlled by the group’s leaders.
Still, the AP reports, “There is no evidence that the Lincoln Project buried the allegations against Weaver for business reasons.” The outlet goes on to report on “new revelations about spending practices,” namely, how absolutely rich everyone on at the top of the Lincoln Project got off this utterly craven grift. A collection of illuminating statistics, via the AP (emphasis mine again):
Of the $90 million Lincoln Project has raised, more than $50 million has gone to firms controlled by the group’s leaders.
Since its creation, the Lincoln Project has raised $90 million. But only about a third of the money, roughly $27 million, directly paid for advertisements that aired on broadcast and cable, or appeared online, during the 2020 campaign, according to an analysis of campaign finance disclosures and data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.
That leaves tens of millions of dollars that went toward expenses like production costs, overhead — and exorbitant consulting fees collected by members of the group.
Public records reveal that the unexpected success of the Lincoln Project has extended a lifeline to some founders who have spent much of the past decade under financial distress.
Over the past decade, Weaver has repeatedly failed to pay taxes, defaulted on loans and faced lawsuits from creditors seeking to collect. In October, he paid off $313,000 in back taxes owed to the IRS dating back to 2011, records show. A separate case in Texas is still pending over $340,000 back rent his family owes after shuttering a children’s boutique they operated, records show.
Others used the money earned during their time with Lincoln Project to refinance homes, or purchase a new one. [Co-founder Steve] Schmidt purchased a $1.4 million “Mountain Modern” custom home in Kamas, Utah, with five bedrooms, seven baths and a “stunning” view of the Uinta Mountains, according to property records and real estate listings. He is currently trying to resell the home for $2.9 million.
Setting aside whatever heinousness “Mountain Modern” means, what’s eminently clear is that the Lincoln Project has been the single-most successful #Resistance grift of the Trump era. Their stated goal was to ally with Democrats for the singular goal of getting Trump out of office. They won, and they’ve won lavishly—not just in terms of cold hard cash, but in making a bunch of old, failed Republican operators whose careers were deader than dead in MAGA America newly relevant to the liberals who are now in power.
Another such grift is the “centrist” Third Way think tank, which also rose to prominence back when Democrats were looking for decorum and the spirit of bipartisanship like a man dying of thirst in the desert. Matt Bennett, a Third Way co-founder who’s addicted to media attention, cropped up yet again today in a Politico piece about the Biden administration’s reluctance to push for a $15 minimum wage hike to remain in the next COVID-19 relief bill. Let’s see what our old friend had to say, shall we??
“Raising the minimum wage is important but it’s not an emergency,” said Matt Bennett, a top official at the centrist-Democratic think tank Third Way. Bennett, who has been talking to both the White House and the Senate about the Covid package, said unemployment insurance running out in March “is an emergency.”
Top-flight thinking from the guy whose organization discouraged Democrats from talking big about immigration and dreamcasted about a national, WPA-esque project that would allow old people to work until they die.
I say: enough already. If you currently or in the past have worked for the Lincoln Project or Third Way, I never want to hear from you again. If you’re a journalist who keeps these experts on asking for less on speed dial, ask yourself why, and immediately stop doing that. They got what they wanted. The least we can possibly do now is stop giving them the attention that could sustain them and their political scams for years and years to come.