- Embattled former Lincoln Project leader John Weaver was included in plans for a new media venture.
- The New York Times reports that Weaver signed on to be a part of TLP Media in October 2020.
- Weaver had gone on leave in August 2020 after an internal review of inappropriate behavior.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump political action committee created by a group of Republican political strategists, had plans to include embattled co-founder John Weaver in its plans to build a media venture while Weaver was on leave amid sexual harassment allegations, according to The New York Times.
Weaver, a former campaign strategist for 2008 presidential candidate John McCain and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, was involved in the Lincoln Project from its inception. He had been distanced from the project since August 2020 but still had a hand in the creation of the media project.
The Times reported that in late October 2020, shortly before the presidential election, Weaver and fellow co-founders Steve Schmidt, Reed Galen, and Rick Wilson started making moves to establish a new venture together, called TLP Media. Weaver was formally still on leave but all four signed a “27-page agreement” to each put in $100,000 for TLP Media.
The Times reported that in the late October pitch meeting for the media venture, Schmidt referred to Weaver as a “black box.”
A Lincoln Project spokeswoman told The Times that TLP Media “is an inactive company – it only ever existed on paper, never conducted any business, and was never capitalized by its due date, making it null. There are no plans to use this business in the future.”
Beginning in late 2020, news outlets, including the American Conservative, Forensic News, The Times, and others, published accounts of dozens of young men who said Weaver communicated with them in sexually inappropriate ways, including offering them job opportunities and other professional perks in exchange for sex.
In a January 2021 statement, Weaver apologized for those communications with young men and came out as gay, saying of the messages he sent to the men, “They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you.”
Following the publicizing of the allegations, the Associated Press reported that the Lincoln Project’s leadership team had been made aware of the claims via an email in June 2020.
However, The Times on Monday reported that the top brass at the Lincoln Project were made aware of the allegations as early as January 2020, and only conducted a limited review of the claims in the summer. The allegations against Weaver are now being investigated by an independent law firm hired by the Lincoln Project.
As Vanity Fair reported, the Lincoln Project’s ambitious plans for a media empire, including potential movie, TV, podcast, and book projects, fizzled out amid the Weaver allegations and scrutiny over the group’s finances and leadership structure. The Times reported that $27 million of the group’s fundraising haul directly flowed to Galen’s consulting firm and from there, to the co-founders themselves.
Those factors led to immense turmoil among the group’s top leadership and members, some of which played out in the public sphere. One former adviser, lawyer George Conway, called for the project to be disbanded altogether.
Schmidt, for his part, stepped down from the board after a public dispute with another former Lincoln Project leader Jennifer Horn, which included the group sending out a scathing public statement about Horn and then leaking Horn’s private Twitter messages with a reporter from the 19th News.