The Corner

Politics & Policy

Yes, the Lincoln Project Is an Ugly Grift

The Associated Press has a devastating piece detailing how members of the Lincoln Project, the scam “GOP” PAC beloved by the media, enriched themselves on gullible donors. This fact is likely to be unsurprising to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the organization. The AP reports that of the $90 million Lincoln Project raised, more than $50 million went to firms controlled by the group’s leaders and “exorbitant consulting fees collected by members of the group,” an “arrangement that avoids disclosure.”

The uglier revelation provided by the AP is that the leaders of the project were repeatedly told about accusations of sexual harassment against founder John Weaver but ignored them — and then lied about it when they finally came to light. It matters for the alleged victims, but it also matters because the Lincoln Project was given a giant megaphone, predicated on the fiction that it represented principled conservatives. It then leveled some of the nastiest smears of 2020, accusing anyone who didn’t adopt its hysterical tone of being complicit in the end of democracy and the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

In June, when the money was coming in, the group, according to AP, had already been informed “in writing and in subsequent phone calls” of at least ten specific allegations of harassment against Weaver — some of them against its own employees. Weaver, incidentally, had been a registered foreign agent lobbying for Russia against U.S. sanctions until that May. Then again, Steve Schmidt, as the New York Post reported, had only become the darling of the MSNBC/CNN set after being rebuffed by the Trump administration.

Recently, the founders of the group claimed they were “shocked” by the Weaver revelations, but the AP has multiple sources who contend that those ten allegations, and others, were discussed on phone calls with leaders of the group in June and August. Not to mention, according to many people in Washington, that Weaver’s proclivities were something of an open secret anyway.

Yet in October, Weaver was sitting next to fellow shysters Schmidt, Rick Wilson, and Reed Galen on 60 Minutes lecturing America about morality and a return to decency.

Honestly, if people want to send their money to bail out the Lincoln Project’s founders, some of whom, as the AP notes, “spent much of the past decade under financial distress,” that’s on them. A big chunk of the funding came from big Democrat donors, anyway. And I’ve got no problem with dark money. You’ve helped Steve Schmidt buy a new mansion, congrats! But the rest of us are under no obligation to pretend that the project was anything but an ugly grift.

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