The Lincoln Project Is Targeting High School Students Again

The Franklin Project, a revamped dark money group, aims to educate vulnerable youths

May 17, 2021

The Lincoln Project, a Democratic-aligned super PAC that was briefly the subject of critical media coverage after one of its cofounders was exposed as a serial sexual predator, wants to educate your children about American values.

The news blog Axios has written a glowing profile of the Lincoln Project's latest endeavor, the Franklin Project, which aims to "unify people opposed to partisan dysfunction" in part by developing a "K-12 civics education program it will offer free to local school districts."

John Weaver, the disgraced Lincoln Project cofounder, is alleged to have targeted at least one high school student by sending the boy suggestive text messages and asking inappropriate questions about his body. Dozens of young men have accused Weaver of inappropriate sexual behavior, including grooming them for sex by offering to advance their careers in politics.

The Franklin Project, which launches this week, is not a new organization. The 501(c)(4) nonprofit is merely a rebranded version of the dark money group Lincoln Project cofounder Reed Galen secretly operated during the 2020 election. CNBC's Brian Schwartz noted the public record indicates Galen's dark money group, Project Yellowstone, recently changed its name to the Franklin Project.

During the 2020 campaign, Project Yellowstone was ostensibly involved in voter education initiatives, but critics suspect its true purpose was to funnel cash to the Lincoln Project founders and their associates, and to shield these financial activities from public scrutiny.

The Axios "scoop" about the Franklin Project's launch is a glorified press release that does not mention Project Yellowstone or the controversies surrounding the Lincoln Project's questionable financial practices, which have been extensively documented in the New York Times.

Whatever the Franklin Project's true purpose, its superficial educational mission sounds rather creepy and paternalistic, with a strong #NoLabels vibe. Co-executive director Greg Jenkins said the dark money group is "going to provide you content that reminds you about your roles—as a citizen, what it means to be a citizen, what you can do." Self-identified Republicans and Democrats "ought to feel perfectly at home."

It remains unclear when the Lincoln Project will publish the results of the multiple (alleged) internal investigations into the Weaver scandal and the organization's financial practices. The group announced in February it had hired the law firm Paul Hastings to conduct a "comprehensive review" of the Lincoln Project's "operations and culture." The firm's credibility was immediately undermined, however, by the fact that several senior partners were Lincoln Project donors.

Published under: Lincoln Project