A political strategist with ties to some of the Democratic Party's most notorious perverts is joining the Lincoln Project. The announcement comes just days after the scandal-plagued super PAC exonerated itself of wrongdoing with respect to John Weaver, the Lincoln Project cofounder who used his position of authority to sexually exploit vulnerable young men.
Joe Trippi, who previously worked for disgraced senators Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.) and John Edwards (D., N.C.), announced his decision Tuesday in a USA Today op-ed. "This is not about policy or petty politics or our individual histories and past partisan fights," Trippi wrote. "It's about the future of our democracy and, as Lincoln's guardians, making sure it survives. That is why, today, I am joining the Lincoln Project in this cause."
Trippi served on Kennedy's presidential campaign in 1980, when the senator ran against then-president Jimmy Carter in the Democratic primary. Some critics view the intraparty challenge as a reckless endeavor that helped ensure Carter's defeat to Ronald Reagan, the Republican candidate. It was the last time a member of the controversial Kennedy dynasty ran for president.
Kennedy's defeat in the primary came a decade after he murdered a woman with his car on Chappaquiddick Island, fled the scene of the crime, and waited nearly 10 hours to inform the police. His failure to unseat Carter vindicated those who argued killing a woman and suffering no consequences as a result of his prominent family would hinder Kennedy's prospects on the national level. Nevertheless, he continued to serve as senator until his death in 2009.
In the years following the Chappaquiddick incident, Kennedy cemented himself as one of the most lecherous Democrats to ever serve in the Senate. For example, GQ magazine recounted a 1985 incident in which Kennedy and former senator Chris Dodd (D., Conn.) allegedly sexually assaulted a waitress during a drunken night out at La Brasserie in Washington, D.C. According to reports, Kennedy threw the waitress on Dodd's lap and began "rubbing his genital area against hers."
In 2007, Edwards hired Trippi as a senior adviser to his presidential campaign. Edwards also hired Rielle Hunter, a filmmaker with whom he would have an extramarital affair while his wife was dying from breast cancer. Edwards fathered a child with Hunter but initially refused to accept paternity, and even pressured a campaign aide, Andrew Young, to claim the child was his.
The Lincoln Project, which began as a Republican organization dedicated to raising money from rich liberals who disliked former president Donald Trump, has sought to rebrand itself as a "pro-democracy" super PAC dedicated to raising money from rich liberals who dislike all Republicans, as well as moderate Democrats who refuse to endorse radical left-wing reforms.
Earlier this year, the super PAC was rocked by allegations that its senior members were aware of Weaver's predatory behavior toward young men, which included grooming with offers of job opportunities in exchange for sex. The Lincoln Project finally cut ties with Weaver after the allegations were published in the New York Times in late January.
In February, the Lincoln Project hired the law firm Paul Hastings to conduct a "comprehensive review" of the group's "operations and culture," and to determine whether or not senior members handled the Weaver scandal in an appropriate fashion. The firm's credibility was immediately undermined by the fact that several of its senior partners have donated to the Lincoln Project.
The firm's findings were not released to the public, but the Lincoln Project issued a carefully worded press release last month exonerating itself of any wrongdoing. The super PAC, which raised almost $100 million during the 2020 campaign cycle, has dramatically enhanced the financial situations of its founding members. As a result, the group has been denounced as a shameless grifting operation, including by former employees who have called for the Lincoln Project to be shut down.