“It is heart-breaking to read the accounts of his abuse. It disgusts us. It breaks our hearts,” the super PAC said in a statement released Thursday night. “John’s conduct has enabled the enemies of American democracy to unfairly and misleadingly attack us and we will not back down.”
The group said it needed “outside experts to help us understand, resolve, and rectify this matter.”
The Lincoln Project on Friday did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on its handling of the Weaver allegations.
When the Times reported in late January that 21 young men received unsolicited and sexually provocative messages online from Weaver, he told the newspaper in a statement: “I am so disheartened and sad that I may have brought discomfort to anyone in what I thought at the time were mutually consensual discussions. In living a deeply closeted life, I allowed my pain to cause pain for others. For that I am truly sorry to these men and everyone and for letting so many people down.”
The super PAC’s leaders have said they were unaware of Weaver’s conduct until recently. Since the Times’ report was published, others have detailed similar complaints.
In its Thursday statement, the group said it was directing any former employees who felt they could not talk about Weaver publicly to contact the group to be released from those agreements.
“The Lincoln Project believes the members of our movement and the victims of John Weaver’s despicable and deceptive behavior are owed the facts, and you will have them. John Weaver betrayed all of us and you deserve the facts presented independently through a transparent process,” the group’s statement said.
But even as the Lincoln Project this week attempted to mitigate the controversy over Weaver and those seeking releases from non-disclosure agreements, the group created another one on Twitter.
Emily Ramshaw, the co-founder and CEO of The 19th, said the Lincoln Project’s posts featuring the private messages came after Becker had sent the group a series of questions for a story she was reporting.
He also apologized to Horn and Becker for the publication of their private messages, saying that they “never should have been made public” without specifying whether he was personally behind the Twitter posts.
“It is my job as a senior leader to accept responsibility for the tremendous misjudgment to release it,” he said.
The new scrutiny the Lincoln Project faces also has raised questions about how much of the money it raised from anti-Trump Republicans and Democrats in the 2020 election cycle is being spent in pursuit of its goals of defeating Trump and those in the GOP who backed him.
The Lincoln Project has raised more than $90 million from contributors since its founding in November 2019 — making it one of the best-funded groups among organizations opposing Trump. About $50 million, however, has gone to firms connected to the super PAC’s founders, a tally of Federal Election Commission records shows.
The super PAC did not respond to CNN’s request for comment about its spending.
Financial reports showed millions going to firms run by Galen and Steslow. But it is difficult to determine through public records how much co-founders were paid.
Schmidt told The Associated Press that the group “will be delighted to open its books for audit immediately after the Trump campaign and all affiliated super PACs do so.”
The Lincoln Project attracted a massive audience of anti-Trump followers, but has long been characterized by some on the left and right as a money-making vehicle for the operatives involved.
CNN’s Fredreka Schouten contributed to this story.