Report: Lincoln Project Knew of Weaver Allegations Months Before New York Times Story

February 9, 2021

Senior members of the Lincoln Project were made aware of John Weaver's interactions with vulnerable young men as early as August 2020, according to a report published Tuesday in the Washington Blade.

Weaver cut ties with the controversial super PAC in January after dozens of young men accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior. Lincoln Project executives, however, did not publicly comment on the scandal until early February, after the New York Times published a story.

Lincoln Project cofounder Steve Schmidt told the Times that the group's leaders saw social media posts over the summer that suggested Weaver, who is married with children, might have had relationships with young men but insisted "there was no awareness or insinuations of any type of inappropriate behavior when we became aware of the chatter at the time."

The Blade obtained electronic communications that reportedly undermine Schmidt's claim about what the Lincoln Project's leaders knew at the time:

These electronic messages, which date back to August 2020 and include Lincoln Project cofounder Mike Madrid, showed that leadership was made aware of allegations about Weaver from reporters who were investigating it, and had begun discussions of how to respond to any fallout.

The initial alerts came to the attention of the Lincoln Project in early August in the form of inquiries about Weaver from the New York Post. The inquiries, three sources familiar with the New York Post story say, were part of an investigation into Weaver’s inappropriate messages to male youths, and brought to the attention of Madrid.

On Aug. 6, the Lincoln Project announced Weaver would go on medical leave after a cardiac emergency, but no further action was announced.

"So instead of looking into the allegations, they swept it under the rug," one source familiar with the situation told the Blade.

In an interview with the Blade last week, Schmidt repeated his denial that the Lincoln Project had "any knowledge of any misconduct by John Weaver" until January and attempted to downplay Madrid's role as a cofounder of the organization, saying he wasn't "the leader" and wasn't "making decisions."

Another Lincoln Project cofounder, Rick Wilson, was slightly more nuanced in his denial regarding the group's awareness of Weaver's problematic behavior toward young men. During a Lincoln Project TV appearance last week, Wilson said the allegations against Weaver had never "come to our attention in a way that said, 'Hey, wow, this is a problem at scale.'"

Weaver reportedly suffered a heart attack over the summer, which prompted his decision to take medical leave. Weeks later, cofounder George Conway announced he was "withdrawing" from the Lincoln Project to "devote more time to family matters."

Since then, three more Lincoln Project founders have left the group. Madrid and Ron Steslow reportedly resigned in December, but their resignations were not made public until February after the Times published its story. Jennifer Horn announced her resignation over the weekend, citing Weaver's "grotesque" and "sickening" behavior.

Just three of the Lincoln Project's eight founding members—Schmidt, Wilson, and Reed Galen—remain at the super PAC.

Published under: Lincoln Project