Lincoln Project founders wanted to partner with Weaver in new venture despite harassment claims: Report
Disgraced group had eyes on forming global media organization
Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt pitched a joint media venture with John Weaver as an equal partner months after allegations of Weaver's predatory online conduct had come to the organization's attention, according to a new report.
The New York Times reported Monday that Schmidt, Weaver and fellow co-founders Rick Wilson and Reed Galen sought to transform their anti-Trump super PAC into a massive media organization. They pitched the idea shortly before the November election.
By this point, however, Weaver's penchant for harassing dozens of men online with inappropriate comments and offers to trade sex for employment was known to the group's higher-ups, according to reporting by Fox News and multiple other outlets.
However, after raising $90 million from liberal donors in less than a year and becoming a mainstream press favorite, the leaders dreamed of becoming a global media force.
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Schmidt, one of the Lincoln Project's most visible members due to his bombastic appearances on MSNBC, has claimed he had no knowledge of Weaver's conduct until it was reported on this year. However, The 19th reported he and other founders knew of allegations as early as March 2020. That would mean he wanted to partner with Weaver on a billion-dollar venture seven months after being made aware of the claims.
The New York Times also reported for the first time that some of the allegations about Weaver came to the Lincoln Project co-founders' attention in January 2020, just a month after it formed. Fox News previously reported that Weaver's behavior had been an "open secret" for years, although Wilson has claimed it was something only known to "gay Twitter" and reporters in Washington and New York.
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Since the extent of Weaver's behavior came to light in January, beginning with a report from The American Conservative, the Lincoln Project has distanced itself from Weaver. Schmidt and Wilson both eviscerated him as a serial liar who had deceived them all as he preyed on young men, one of whom was 14 when Weaver first allegedly contacted him.
Schmidt, when he resigned from the Lincoln Project board last month, lashed out at Weaver in a lengthy statement in which he stipulated his professional relationship with Weaver did not begin until 2019.
While addressing Weaver's harassment in February, Wilson claimed Weaver had effectively been cut out of the loop at the Lincoln Project after he went on medical leave in August due to a cardiac episode.
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"He’d been gone for seven months, functionally speaking, OK?" Wilson said of Weaver last month on "The New Abnormal," the Daily Beast podcast he founded.
That would appear to belie Wilson's desire to form a lucrative partnership with him fewer than three months after Weaver's health scare, however.
The Times story is the latest in a series of bombshell reports about the disgraced organization, which has tried to soldier on despite allegations of covering up their knowledge of Weaver's alleged behavior, financial self-dealing, a toxic work environment, and calls by even its own former members to shut down.
That call was repeated Monday by co-founder George Conway, who said it should dissolve unless it gave a "full disclosure of its finances."
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Long derided as a so-called "scam PAC" by critics on the left and right, the Lincoln Project is unlikely to see those accusations go away. According to the Times report, the Lincoln Project directed $27 million -- nearly one-third of its donations -- to Galen's consulting firm, while Schmidt, Wilson, Galen, and Weaver were also paid handsomely.