The disgraced Lincoln Project has admitted it was behind a stunt aimed at falsely linking Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin to racists at one of his campaign stops on Friday.

A reporter for NBC 29 tweeted a picture Friday morning showing five people dressed in white shirts and khakis while holding tiki torches, standing in front of Youngkin's campaign bus. The group's outfits were similar to those worn by some attendees of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va., where multiple white supremacist groups protested and one person was killed.


The Youngkin campaign was quick to call out the purported "Unite the Right" group as imposters, and rumors swirled all day on social media about who might have been behind planting the individuals at the event.

Youngkin's campaign accused Democratic rival Terry McAuliffe's campaign of being behind the "Unite the Right" posers, which the McAuliffe camp denied. In the afternoon, the Lincoln Project – a group of former Republicans who left the party over their hatred for former President Donald Trump – took credit for the stunt and explained their reasoning behind it.

"Today’s demonstration was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it," the Lincoln Project said in a press release.

"The Lincoln Project has run advertisements highlighting the hate unleashed in Charlottesville as well as Glenn Youngkin’s continued failure to denounce Donald Trump’s ‘very fine people on both sides,'" the group said. "We will continue to draw this contrast in broadcast videos, on our social media platforms, and at Youngkin rallies."


Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe speaks during his campaign rally in Dumfries, Virginia October 21, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

The McAuliffe campaign issued a statement saying, "What happened today in Charlottesville is disgusting and distasteful and the McAuliffe campaign condemns it in the strongest terms. Those involved should immediately apologize."

Donald Trump Jr. is among those voicing suspicion that the Lincoln Project's confession is false.

In brief comments to Fox News after the Lincoln Project's apparent confession, Youngkin said his condemnation of McAuliffe for the incident still stands. 


The Virginia governor's race is still a toss-up, with the latest Washington Post-Schar School poll showing McAuliffe just one point ahead of Youngkin with likely voters, 49% to 48%.

Glenn Youngkin on the campaign trail

AMHERST, VIRGINIA - OCTOBER 28: Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin delivers remarks at a campaign event in the parking lot of Vito's Pizza Bar & Grill on October 28, 2021 in Amherst, Virginia. Youngkin is on a campaign bus tour across the state of Virginia as he contests Democratic candidate and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the state election that is less than a week away on November 2. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

McAuliffe had led in every poll up until a few weeks ago, when some polls started rolling in showing Youngkin as the favorite. That was after McAuliffe declared, "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they need to teach."

The Washington Post-Schar School poll released Friday also shows education has jumped to the top issue for voters in the commonwealth of Virginia, and education voters favor Youngkin by 9%.

The election is Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Fox News' Tyler Olson contributed to this report.