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Lincoln Project Investigated Weaver Allegations As Early As June: REPORT

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  • Members of the Lincoln Project began investigating allegations against co-founder John Weaver as early as June 2020, sources told the New York Times. 
  • The publication obtained a portion of an email sent in June 2020 to Lincoln Project board member Ron Steslow describing sexual harassment allegations against Weaver and offering to put the organization in contact with involved parties.
  • After the June email from an employee at Tusk, a media company owned by one of the Lincoln Project’s board members, the company began a limited internal review into Weaver’s conduct. 

Members of the Lincoln Project began investigating allegations against co-founder John Weaver as early as June 2020, sources told the New York Times.

The publication obtained a portion of an email sent in June 2020 to Lincoln Project board member Ron Steslow describing sexual harassment allegations against Weaver and offering to put the organization in contact with involved parties. The email was forwarded to other Lincoln Project leaders, according to the New York Times, and warned that Weaver’s behavior was “potentially fatal” to the Lincoln Project.

Multiple people who read the full email described its complete contents to the Times. The email was sent by an employee who worked for Tusk, a company that had hired the Lincoln Project to do digital advertising, the publication reported. Steslow is the owner and president of Tusk. (RELATED: Senior Partners At Firm The Lincoln Project Hired To ‘Review Culture’ Donated Thousands To The Organization)

“I’m writing regarding a pattern of concerning behavior by Weaver that has been brought to my attention by multiple people,” the email began, according to the Times. “In addition to being morally and potentially legally wrong, I believe what I’m going to outline poses an immediate threat to the reputation of the organization, and is potentially fatal to our public image.”

The email described allegations against Weaver ranging from 2014 to 2020, according to the Times. One of these allegations was a 2015 “bait-and-switch situation” wherein Weaver allegedly tried to bring a young man back to his hotel room after offering to discuss a job with the young man.

The June email also said that Weaver “mixed suggestive commentary with official T.L.P. marketing work” and that Weaver had allegedly harassed people after the Lincoln Project’s founding in late 2019, according to the Times. (RELATED: Lincoln Project Scrambles To Clean Up John Weaver Mess, Publishes Former Employee’s Private Messages)

Five people with knowledge of the matter told the Times that co-founder Reed Galen knew about the June email, though the Lincoln Project previously expressed shock over allegations against Weaver.

“The totality of his deceptions are beyond anything any of us could have imagined and we are absolutely shocked and sickened by it,” the group said in a January statement.

The Times’s sources also said that Steslow unsuccessfully tried to push Weaver out of the organization and discussed his concerns with other Lincoln Project officials as early as February 2020. The publication noted that it is not immediately clear which Lincoln Project leaders were made aware of the allegations at the time.

Co-founder Steve Schmidt has said that he knew of no “insinuations of any type of inappropriate behavior” involving Weaver, saying only that he had heard Weaver might be gay.

After the June email from the Tusk employee, the Lincoln Project began an internal review into Weaver’s conduct, according to the Times. The Lincoln Project’s general counsel Matt Sanderson led the limited review, Republican political consultant Sarah Lenti, who formerly served as the Lincoln Project’s executive director, told the Times.

The organization only reached out to two people who had complained about Weaver, Lenti told the Times. The organization did not inquire into many of the allegations in the June email, she said.

“I was not made privy to any written report, if there was ever one, and to my knowledge only the two gentlemen were interviewed,” Lenti told the publication.

Weaver was not interviewed during the review, she told the Times. (RELATED: Lincoln Project Leaders Reportedly Padded Pockets From Anti-Trump Donations While Ignoring Allegations Against Cofounder)

Lenti also said that a Tusk employee told Steslow about allegations against Weaver in January 2020. While she served as the Lincoln Project’s executive director, Lenti said, she was told in March 2020 that Weaver “had a history of flirting with gentlemen over Twitter in an inappropriate fashion.”

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