The Lincoln Project was plunged into even deeper turmoil Thursday, with the anti-Trump group tapping an outsider to investigate its handling of sexual misconduct allegations against a co-founder, and former employees demanding to be released from non-disclosure agreements.
On Friday, several more key advisers left the group in the wake of the previous day’s scandalous reports.
The organization fanned the flames by tweeting out what appeared to be private messages between a co-founder who left in a rancorous split and a journalist who was hoping to interview her. The Lincoln Project later deleted the tweet—which was cited by the ex-staffers as an example of retaliation.
The controversy boiled over hours after reports that leaders of the Lincoln Project knew about sexual harassment allegations against co-founder John Weaver last summer, before they became public in January. (Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson is a Daily Beast columnist and co-hosts the podcast The New Abnormal.)
More than 20 men have accused Weaver of sending unsolicited sexual messages, with some saying he tried to barter his connections for sex; one was underage when Weaver began communicating. Weaver, who is married with two children, admitted his behavior was “inappropriate” but said he thought all the interactions were consensual.
Weaver resigned, but the accusations did not end there. Last weekend, co-founder Jennifer Horn stepped down, citing what she said were Weaver’s “grotesque and inappropriate behavior” and “longstanding deceptions.” The group responded by claiming she left after making financial demands including a $250,000 signing bonus.
On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that leaders of the Lincoln Project learned about allegations against Weaver in the summer after a payroll employee emailed co-founder Ron Steslow—who then reportedly shared it with corporate counsel Matthew Sanderson and other key figures and advocated for Weaver to be removed from the organization.