Politics

Senior Partners at Firm Hired to ‘Review’ Lincoln Project Scandal Have Donated Thousands to Group

Paul Hastings, the law firm hired to conduct a "comprehensive review" of the Lincoln Project's "operations and culture," could be hard-pressed to deliver a credible result given several of its senior partners have donated to the scandal-plagued super PAC.

Greg Nitzkowski, the firm's managing partner of more than two decades, donated $3,000 to the Lincoln Project in 2020, according to federal election records. Elena Baca, who chairs the firm's employment law department, has donated almost $2,000 to the Lincoln Project.

According to her bio on the Paul Hastings website, Baca is "considered a ‘go-to' employment lawyer for many large employers with high-profile disputes involving high-level executives and contentious high-stakes litigation." She has won praise for her "aggressive approach" to defending clients against "claims of sex discrimination and retaliation."

The Lincoln Project could soon require the services of an attorney with Baca's skill set. The group's only female cofounder, Jennifer Horn, has instructed the group (via her lawyer) to retain documents in anticipation of a lawsuit. Horn, who resigned from the group on Feb. 5, has made allegations of abusive and demeaning treatment by Lincoln Project executives.

Three other Paul Hastings partners have donated money to the Lincoln Project: Sam Alavi, whose clients include the Qatar Investment Authority; Joseph Profaizer, who has defended Chinese firms against allegations of intellectual property theft from U.S. competitors; and Steven Marenberg, who previously represented Donald Trump and NBC Universal in a copyright case involving The Apprentice.

The Lincoln Project announced on Monday that it has retained Paul Hastings for the purpose of conducting an internal investigation. "We are committed to creating a positive, diverse, and inclusive workplace environment at The Lincoln Project, and inappropriate behavior by anyone associated with the organization will not be tolerated under any circumstances," the group said in a statement.

The move was seen by many as a last-ditch effort to placate nervous donors and media outlets, whose fawning coverage of the Lincoln Project fueled its rise to become one of the most well-funded super PACs of the 2020 cycle. The group has been racked by scandal since mid-January, when dozens of young men accused cofounder John Weaver of engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior.

Additional reporting on the scandal has uncovered significant evidence to suggest that senior Lincoln Project members, who have aggressively denied any knowledge of Weaver's predatory behavior, are not being entirely truthful. The group has also failed to satisfy the demands of six former Lincoln Project employees and associates who have demanded to be released from all non-disclosure agreements in order to speak openly about their experiences.

The announcement of the internal review by Paul Hastings included an oddly worded passage releasing "staff and former staff from the confidentiality provisions in their employment agreements to discuss their workplace environment." In a statement, the group of former employees and associates slammed the gesture as "insufficient" and "coyly narrowed" to give the appearance of transparency, while still barring them from discussing the Weaver scandal.

"As an organization with dozens of contractors, subcontractors, informal advisers, and other associates, this statement is unclear, and seems intentionally narrowed to only include talking about a ‘workplace environment,'" the former employees said. "This statement is designed to appear to be honest and forthright, while still keeping staff silent about the John Weaver situation on a technicality. This is the exact sort of behavior many of us joined The Lincoln Project to fight back against."

Paul Hastings did not respond to a request for comment.