Former Lincoln Project staff seek release from non-disclosure agreements as group accused of posting ex-member’s private messages

Former Lincoln Project staff seek release from non-disclosure agreements as group accused of posting ex-member’s private messages

Ex-employees of the ‘Never Trump’ Lincoln Project have reportedly asked to be released from nondisclosure agreements so they can speak openly about allegations that the group’s co-founder is a serial sexual harasser.

Six people who worked for the high-profile political group have now written to the organization asking to be freed of legal agreements preventing them from discussing John Weaver, who is accused of sending unsolicited, sexually suggestive messages to over 20 men, including one who was only 14 when they first made contact. In some cases, he purportedly shared explicit photographs with the individuals, and offered them jobs in exchange for sexual favors. 

The 61-year-old Republican operative admitted last month to sending “inappropriate” messages to several young men. 

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The Lincoln Project responded to the allegations by labeling Weaver as a “predator” and “liar,” adding that they had been “deceived” and “betrayed” by him. Yet, several subsequent reports have claimed that the group had been made aware of Weaver’s predatory behavior but failed to take decisive action. 

According to the Associated Press, a senior official at the organization received an email from someone on their payroll back in June 2020, which detailed numerous cases of sexual improprieties involving Weaver. The group reportedly vowed to investigate the matter. Weaver was placed on medical leave in August but there was no formal resolution to the incendiary charges. A story published by New York magazine on Thursday corroborated the claim that the group was made aware of Weaver’s behavior long before the scandal went public. 

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However, the organization insisted that it had no knowledge of Weaver’s actions. Fellow co-founder and veteran Republican operative Steve Schmidt claimed that there were no known complaints against Weaver that would have warranted an internal investigation.  

But the organization has now gone on the defensive. On Thursday, the Lincoln Project announced that it was hiring an outside investigator to probe Weaver’s tenure with the group. The organization also issued a statement encouraging current and former employees to reach out to them if they wanted to be released from NDA agreements so that they could go public on the matter.

But in the letter shared with the New York Times, six former associates of the diehard anti-Trump group said they didn’t feel comfortable approaching the group’s leadership about the scandal, saying that to expect victims and others to do so would be “unreasonable and insensitive.” The letter also noted that Jennifer Horn, a former co-founder, was attacked by Schmidt after claiming that her repeated warnings about Weaver had been ignored. 

The Lincoln Project responded to that claim by posting screenshots of private messages she exchanged with a reporter, sparking further backlash against them. They later deleted the tweets, but it remains unclear how they accessed Horn’s private messages – and Horn herself tweeted that she gave no consent for her account to be accessed.

The group insists that Horn stepped down after her demands for more money were denied. She has described the allegations as “patently false.”

The Lincoln Project came under scrutiny even before the sexual harassment scandal emerged. Although hailed by many liberals as a voice of reason among Republicans, the group has faced questions about how it has spent the $90 million it has raised. Only about a third of the money actually went towards advertisements that attacked Trump, according to analysis by ad-tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.

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