Politics

Lincoln Project Strategists Make A Fortune Off 2022 Election Cycle

Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company

James Lynch Reporter
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The Lincoln Project and its top personnel raked in millions of dollars during the 2022 midterm election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosures.

The anti-Trump Super PAC and consulting firm filed its mandatory FEC disclosure for the period from Oct. 20 through Nov. 28 of 2022 on Thursday, bringing its fundraising total to $12.1 million for the year, based on FEC reports reviewed by the Daily Caller.

The Lincoln Project shelled out $10.9 million on political expenditures in 2022, but spent less than $1 million on political independent expenditures, which support candidates without coordinating with the candidate’s campaign or political party, according to the FEC.

The organization spent $1.28 million on political and strategic consulting, $1.18 million on media production and $1.14 million on legal services and payouts. Other spending went toward payroll, digital services, digital ads and podcasts.

Among the firm’s top vendors in 2022 have been media and communications firms apparently run by Lincoln Project’s top personnel.

Lever Communications, run by Lincoln Project senior advisor Joe Trippi, received $1.72 million; Summit Strategic, run by treasurer Reed Galen, received $744,600; Message Mountain, run by senior advisor Stuart Stevens, received $458,900; Intrepid Media, run by co-founder Rick Wilson, received $400,000; and Third Act, run by former video editor Ben Howe, received $391,000 from the Lincoln Project in the 2022 cycle.

The itemized disbursements and independent expenditures made to firms run by Lincoln Project’s top personnel are recorded in quarterly forms and other financial disclosures to the FEC. The Lincoln Project website lists each of the top vendors as part of its leadership, with the exception of Howe.

Howe was fired by the Lincoln Project for crude tweets about female anatomy directed toward political opponents, Washington Post reported. In 2020, Vanity Fair described him as one of the “top creative minds” behind the group’s video ads targeting former President Donald Trump and other Republicans. (RELATED: ‘We’re Right, They’re Wrong’: Lincoln Project Teams Up With Media Execs To Try To Thwart Trump, Republicans)

Additionally, the Lincoln Project distributed $358,000 to Maryland-based Ashton Media, which campaign finance watchdog Open Secrets described as a “little-known” firm. The spending suggests that the Lincoln Project pays firms as sub-contractors and that “Federal Election Commission filings don’t tell the whole story about The Lincoln Project’s spending,” OpenSecrets concluded in 2020.

Data on the Lincoln Project’s spending was originally compiled by campaign finance expert Rob Pyers, who told the Caller that “the data is collected via a custom script that downloads the raw text campaign finance filing from the FEC’s website, parses the results and uploads the individual transactions to a database to allow for a more close analysis.”

“As far as what it says about their spending priorities, I’ll be charitable and just say that the latest filing is unlikely to tamp down on critics’ accusations of self-dealing,” Pyers added. The figures have since been reviewed for accuracy by the Caller.

In May of 2021, the Lincoln Project released a “financial stewardship” report for the 2020 election. The report touted the organization’s digital reach compared to traditional Super PACs and included a vow to keep fighting against “the threat of Trumpism.”

The group has been repeatedly accused of self dealing after questions were raised about its financial arrangements, The New York Times reported. The Daily Beast alleged in its coverage of the Showtime documentary series on the group’s scandals that the Lincoln Project “hoodwinked anti-Trump liberals.”

The Lincoln Project also came under scrutiny for its allegedly toxic workplace culture and for allegedly covering up the sexual harassment of young men by co-founder and longtime political operative John Weaver.

Lincoln Project did not immediately respond to the Caller’s request for comment.