Lincoln Project Schlub Compares Self to Courageous Russian Anti-War Activist

ANALYSIS: Trolling Trump on Twitter not the same as risking life to challenge Putin

March 15, 2022

Rick Wilson, cofounder of the scandal-plagued Lincoln Project, subtly compared his decision to leave the Republican Party to the courageous actions of Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian journalist who protested the invasion of Ukraine during a live television broadcast.

"I have a few thoughts [about courage]," Wilson wrote on Twitter, as if speaking from personal experience. "First, it's very, very hard to walk away from the tribal campfire. You lose friends. You lose work. You lose connection with a culture in which you were at home."

Wilson's decision to "walk away from the tribal campfire" of the GOP resulted in immense personal wealth. The Lincoln Project raised almost $100 million from left-wing billionaires and activist groups, among others, during the 2020 election cycle. Investigative reporting from the New York Times suggests Wilson and his fellow cofounders funneled a significant portion of that money to themselves. In 2021, Wilson paid off a $200,000 mortgage and finally settled a $400,000 overdue tax bill.

Ovsyannikova's public protest, in which she interrupted one of the most-watched news programs on Russia's state-controlled Channel 1 while holding a sign reading "No war, stop the war, don't believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here," resulted in her being detained and interrogated by Russian police for 14 hours. She was photographed appearing in court with her lawyer, though many fear she could be prosecuted under a new law that makes it a criminal offense to criticize Russia's actions in Ukraine. Dozens of Russian journalists have been murdered by Vladimir Putin's regime.

A Washington Free Beacon analysis determined that Wilson and Ovsyannikova are not very similar. Chasing "generational wealth" by trolling Donald Trump on social media—Wilson has tweeted more than 70 times per day on average since 2009—is not the same as Ovsyannikova risking her life and freedom, as well as the life and freedom of her entire family, to criticize an authoritarian despot with a long history of hunting down and killing his opponents.

It is not the first time a Lincoln Project cofounder has compared running an anti-Trump super PAC to an act of true heroism and self-sacrifice. Wilson's colleague Steve Schmidt, for example, likened the Lincoln Project schlubs to the American soldiers who stormed the beaches at Normandy and the civil rights leaders who marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965.