Update (1900ET): Shortly after completing this post, news broke, via Axios, that Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt is resigning from the group’s board amid a series of scandals.
As a reminder, here is what he said earlier:
“The Lincoln Project will be delighted to open its books for audit immediately after the Trump campaign and all affiliated super PACs do so,” Steve Schmidt said in response to inquiries about how much of the donations went into their personal bank accounts rather than ads designed to defeat Trump.
Maybe he didn’t like what he saw when ‘he’ opened the books?
In his statement he claims he was molested as a 13 year old. Because when all else fails, just fall back to #MeToo.
The group of life-long Republican Party consultants who, under the name “The Lincoln Project,” got very rich in 2020 with anti-Trump online messaging has spent weeks responding to numerous scandals on multiple fronts. Despite the gravity of those scandals, its conduct on Thursday night was in a whole new category of sleaze. It not only infuriated their long-time allies, but also constituted the abuse of Twitter’s platform to commit likely illegal acts.
That the primary effect of the Lincoln Project was to personally enrich its key operatives by cynically exploiting the fears of U.S. liberals has long been obvious. Reporting throughout 2020 conclusively demonstrated that the vast majority of the tens of millions of dollars raised by the group was going to firms controlled by its founders. One of its most prominent founders — GOP consultant Rick Wilson — personally collected $65,000 from liberals through GoFundMe for an anti-Trump film he kept promising but which never came; to this date, he refuses to explain what he did with that money.
A study conducted after the 2020 election found that the group’s effect on the election’s outcome was trivial to non-existent — not surprising given its penchant for spending money on ads that aired in electorally irrelevant places such as Washington, D.C. or which circulated almost exclusively in liberal cable news and social media venues, and thus had no purpose other than to enable its consultants to take large commissions from the ad spending. They were producing ads solely for liberals, with the overriding intent not of defeating Trump but inflating their net worth. And it worked: until they were no longer needed.
Heading into the 2020 election, most of the U.S. media was uninterested in, if not outright hostile to, any reporting that might have helped President Trump’s re-election bid. As a result, the Lincoln Project continued to enjoy media veneration even as the magnitude of its scam became increasingly obvious. But with Trump now safely vanquished, the Lincoln Project is dispensable, and the protective shield it enjoyed against any real journalistic scrutiny is — like its reputation and prospects for future profiteering — rapidly crumbling.
On Monday, the Associated Press published a comprehensive exposé with new facts about two of the group’s growing scandals. It reported that “in June 2020, members of the organization’s leadership were informed in writing and in subsequent phone calls of at least 10 specific allegations of harassment against co-founder John Weaver, including two involving Lincoln Project employees” — directly contradicting the group’s emphatic denial that it knew nothing about Weaver’s misconduct until the New York Times reported on them at the end of January. As AP delicately put it, these new materials “raise questions about the Lincoln Project’s statement last month that it was ‘shocked’ when accusations surfaced publicly this year.” The gay news outlet The Washington Blade on Tuesday published emails and other correspondence similarly demonstrating the high likelihood that the group’s denials regarding its past knowledge of Weaver’s misconduct were false, as did New York Magazine.