The Lincoln Project is linked to predatory, abusive behavior and regularly criticized over eyebrow-raising finances but Democratic organizations continue to partner with the scandal-plagued group.
The left-wing super PAC announced creation of a collaboration called "The Union" earlier this week, indicating it would launch a collaborative effort of "pro-democracy organizations" to unite in the "battle against autocracy, nationalism, and extremism."
The Lincoln Project’s latest collaboration already has over 30 liberal organizations tied to it and has signed up over 47,000 volunteers referred to as "members." This comes despite the group’s murky history that includes everything from admitting its co-founder John Weaver is "a predator, a liar, and an abuser" to being called out over shady financial practices. Its embarrassing stunt in last year's Virginia governor's race, when it attempted to smear Glenn Youngkin supporters by having members pose as tiki-torch-wielding racists by his campaign bus, further sullied its reputation.
Despite widespread issues, the group has managed to secure national partners including 43 Alumni for America, 314 Action, Backroads PAC, Demcast, The Democracy Labs, Field Team 6, Grassroots Democrats HQ, Insurrection Index, Mi Familia Vota, Protect Our Election, Rural Voices USA, United Rural Democrats, Vote Common Good and Voters of Tomorrow.
Fox News Digital asked The Lincoln Project’s national partners a series of questions, including if it is appropriate to work with the controversial group. None of the organizations responded to a request for comment. The Democracy Labs and Rural Voices USA could not be reached.
The controversial Lincoln Project has also partnered with regional groups including the Alabama Democratic Party, Arizona Coalition for Change, Our Voice Our Vote Arizona, Equality California, Orange County Democratic Party, Equality Florida, Mi Vecino, Georgia Equality, Forward Kentucky, Equality Michigan, For Our Future – Nevada, Battle Born Progress, Somos Votantes, InnovationOhio, Oklahoma United for Progress, Equality Texas, Tarrant County Democratic Party and Berkeley County Democratic Executive Committee.
None of the regional partners responded to Fox News Digital’s request for comment, either.
Last year, Weaver, a Lincoln Project co-founder who was featured on "60 Minutes," was accused of harassment by 21 men, including an alleged victim who was a minor when their online contact first began. The group saw a mass exodus of staffers and advisers after the allegations that one of its co-founders sexually harassed young men became national news.
The Times then reported that six former Lincoln Project employees were asking to be released from their nondisclosure agreements in order to discuss the allegations against Weaver, who dangled job opportunities and social media clout for young men while making suggestive and degrading remarks.
"It's my view that there's clearly a pattern of controversy and scandal that's pervasive with the Lincoln Project and its founders and there are a lot of different questions, in terms of the group's ethical conduct, that need to be answered," Cole Trickle Miele, the young man who was first a minor when Weaver messaged him, told Fox News Digital last year.
The Lincoln Project disavowed Weaver shortly after, claiming his "secret life" was "built on a foundation of deception at every level."
"He is a predator, a liar, and an abuser," the Lincoln Project said in a statement.
However, disavowing Weaver didn’t stop an onslaught of negative attention and the controversial group appeared to be on the verge of a complete collapse, hemorrhaging support from inside and outside the organization.
Co-founder Steve Schmidt resigned from the group’s board, co-founder Jennifer Horn left the group "in disgust," "Never-Trump Conservative" foreign policy expert Tom Nichols announced he would leave his role as an unpaid adviser, adviser Kurt Bardella stepped down and Nayyera Haq -- who was hosting the online show "The Lincoln Report" – also walked away.
Weaver left the project himself, too, after apologizing for his behavior and issuing a statement in which he said he had a hard time reconciling his sexuality because he loved his wife and two kids.
The group’s leaders were faced with a blitz of questions about what they knew about Weaver's behavior and when. The downward spiral for the super PAC founded by disgruntled Republicans who wanted to defeat Donald Trump played out in public and was often mocked by conservatives.
At the same time, troubled financial tactics were bubbling to the surface.
Horn blamed the "grotesque" allegations against Weaver for her exit, but the group’s remaining leaders attributed her departure to a dispute over money and accused her of trying to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in exorbitant fees and bonuses. The dispute got nastier as Schmidt ordered Bardella to publish her private messages with a reporter investigating the disgraced organization. Bardella resigned shortly after.
The Lincoln Project raised nearly $90 million during the 2020 campaign season, paying tens of millions to its co-founders or firms they ran along the way, and Schmidt and others had visions of creating a power media empire that would make them fabulously wealthy. As a result, a flood of stories ensued about the organization's self-dealing and financial mismanagement in addition to the disturbing claims against Weaver.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., even labeled it a scam PAC due to its funneling of liberal donor cash to vendors controlled by the group's founders and an overall lack of return on investment. The liberal Stephen Colbert-produced animated show "Tooning Out The News" mocked the group as "grifters" back in 2020.
Despite negative attention regarding sexual misconduct and finances and disastrous publicity amid a mass exodus, the group declared in Feb. 2021 that it planned to move forward with its work. Over a year later, it's still operational, and Democratic organizations appear to be lining up to form partnerships.
Other liberals want in on "The Union," too. Axios reported that "roughly 500 lawyers have asked to help" with the group’s new project and "many former local journalists have registered to assist with communications" in a piece about the announcement that failed to mention any of the Lincoln Project's scandals.
Last year, The Lincoln Project went all out to defeat Republican Glenn Youngkin in Virginia, depicting him as a closet racist running a divisive, "southern strategy" campaign. However, the group was publicly humiliated once again when it was caught dispatching five tiki-torch wielding people to stand in front of Youngkin’s campaign bus in Charlottesville just days before Election Day, in an effort to conjure up imagery of the infamous White nationalist rally there in 2017.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe's campaign condemned the smear effort after the Lincoln Project fessed up to it and Youngkin ultimately won the election.
The Lincoln Project did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn, David Rutz, Evie Fordham and Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.