How NY Gov. Cuomo’s ‘apologies’ fail to recognize that power imbalances are at the root of sexual harassment

andrew cuomo
New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

  • Andrew Cuomo has issued denials, defenses, and apologies in response to misconduct accusations.
  • His “I never intended” responses miss the point – that power is at the heart of sexual harassment.
  • Ending sexual harassment will require a critical rethinking of the distribution of workplace power.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In recent weeks, multiple women have reported demeaning and sexualized workplace behavior by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. In response, Cuomo has issued a combination of denials, defenses, and apologies.

Much of the public analysis of his statements has focused on the adequacy of these apologies – whether he took sufficient responsibility or expressed sufficient remorse.

Apologies deserve attention. They can help right wrongs and heal relationships.

Yet in the focus on apologies, an opportunity is missed to learn something about power. Power, after all, is at the heart of sexual harassment.

‘Unwanted imposition’

As Catharine MacKinnon, the architect of modern sexual harassment law, has argued, sexual misconduct at work can be defined as “the unwanted imposition of sexual requirements in the context of a relationship of unequal power.”

If responses like Cuomo’s are viewed through a power-informed lens, different patterns emerge. In my own study of over 200 such statements, I found many references to the accused’s own long careers, to their many professional accomplishments, and to their excellent reputations. In short, when challenged, the men in my study (and all but three were men) did what came naturally: They reached for their power.

This pattern is connected to another theme that I discovered in the statements I studied: repetition of explanations and defenses centered on the accused person’s own subjective intent and perceptions.

It’s me being funny. I’m not trying to sexually harass people,” for example, or “I come from a very different culture,” or “I remember trying to kiss [her] as part of what I thought was a consensual seduction ritual.”

However, the accused’s intentions, thoughts, or beliefs – so central in the statements I studied – are only peripheral under sexual harassment law.

Not a joke

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the main federal law that covers workplace discrimination and harassment, an employee may sue her employer when she has experienced severe or pervasive workplace harassment.

Severity and pervasiveness are judged subjectively, from the harassed person’s point of view, and objectively, in the view of a theoretical “reasonable person.” The law also requires that the conduct be unwelcomed by the harassed person.

Though different courts have interpreted these requirements differently around the edges, sexual harassment cases do not turn on whether the harasser thought his conduct was a joke, or culturally acceptable, or ritualized seduction.

Instead, the law’s subjectivity and “welcomeness” requirements ask a superior – like Cuomo – to evaluate his own conduct from his subordinate’s point of view. Superiors who want to avoid committing harassment to begin with (before anything gets to a judge, jury, or media story) need to step outside their own perspective.

This requires empathy. And the more power that a person wields in the workplace, the more difficult it may be to step outside one’s own position and consider the circumstances from another person’s perspective.

‘I never intended’

Here’s where Cuomo’s responses are revealing.

In his first official statement, released on Feb. 28, 2021, out of 18 “I” statements, over half were versions of “I never intended,” “I was being playful,” or “I do, on occasion, tease people.”

Cuomo followed suit in his press conference on March 3, repeating over and over variations on the “I never intended” or “I never knew” or “I didn’t mean it that way” theme.

These statements suggest that, over his long career, Cuomo did not pay attention to the effects of his words and actions on his subordinates, and that the power of his position may have reinforced his heedlessness.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warns about just this type of scenario in its list of harassment risk factors: “High value employees may perceive themselves as exempt from workplace rules or immune from consequences of their misconduct.” Workplaces with significant power imbalances, too, make the risk factor list.

If the movement sparked by #MeToo focuses only on taking down individual bad actors, it will leave intact the workplace structures that enable and protect the powerful – and that produce statements like Cuomo’s. Ending sexual harassment requires a critical rethinking of workplace power, whether it flows from ownership of a company, management of an office, supervision of a shop floor, or the office of the governor.

Charlotte Alexander, associate professor of law and analytics, Georgia State University

The Conversation
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Here’s what we know about the 2 prominent lawyers Rep. Matt Gaetz hired in federal sex-trafficking probe

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, in Washington.

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz has secured help in fighting a federal sexual misconduct probe, hiring two high-profile lawyers, Mark Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, to defend him.
  • Officials are trying to determine whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl or violated sex-trafficking laws.
  • Mukasey is a longtime associate of Rudy Giuliani’s who also has close ties to former President Donald Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Embroiled in a federal sex-trafficking investigation, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida has hired two topdog defense attorneys to represent him.

The lawyers, Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, come as a probe into Gaetz intensifies.

The House Ethics Committee on Friday announced an investigation into Gaetz over allegations of sexual misconduct. A bombshell New York Times report released last week revealed that Gaetz is facing a federal sex crimes investigation, a probe designed to determine whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Officials are also seeking to learn whether he had violated sex-trafficking laws.

The Florida Republican has not been charged, and he’s repeatedly denied all allegations. Instead, he’s pushed a narrative that says the federal investigation and these allegations make up an elaborate and convoluted scheme to extort him and his family for $25 million.

“Once again, the office will reiterate, these allegations are blatantly false and have not been validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them,” Gaetz’s office said in a statement Friday.

The probe, nevertheless, is heating up. And Gaetz hired well-connected powerhouse attorneys to help him navigate through the mess.

The attorneys “will take the fight to those trying to smear his name with falsehoods,” a statement from his office said.

Marc Mukasey

Mukasey is a high-profile attorney with close ties to former President Donald Trump and his ex-personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Mukasey and Giuliani used to be law partners. After they split ways, one of Mukasey’s first clients was Trump himself. He currently represents the Trump Organization in an ongoing criminal probe into the former president’s tax returns conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

One of Mukasey’s most controversial cases involved Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, accused and acquitted of charges related to war crimes.

Mukasey’s career and that of his father have for years closely intertwined with the needs of top GOP leaders.

His father, Michael, was a district judge appointed by Ronald Reagan, Law&Crime reported. He also served as the US attorney general under the George W. Bush administration.

Isabelle Kirshner

Kirshner is an outspoken critic of Trump, constantly blasting him in public. She’s previously referred to the former president as a “scourge” and an “existential threat,” according to Law&Crime.

As an attorney, her record is marked in part by male clients who’ve faced serious sexual abuse and misconduct allegations.

She is a former Manhattan assistant district attorney who represented former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after allegations of sexual assault and violence against him came out. Schneiderman denied all allegations but resigned from his position.

Kirshner’s also represented Dr. Robert Hadden, the New York gynecologist accused of sexual assault. Among his accusers was Evelyn Wang, the wife of now New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang. Evelyn said Hadden had sexually assaulted her multiple times during an OB-GYN visit while she was pregnant with her first child.

Hadden was charged last September with a pattern of sexual assault and abuse spanning decades, from 1993 to 2012.

Neither Mukasey nor Kirshner immediately returned requests for comment from Insider.

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‘He’s got 3 major buckets of s— going on here’: Audio of a meeting with New York Dems reveals deep division in the state legislature over impeaching Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo resign billboard
A billboard urging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign is seen near downtown on March 2, 2021 in Albany, New York.

  • Audio of a March 11 meeting obtained by Yahoo News revealed New York State Assembly members divided on Cuomo.
  • Some members pushed back on the decision to launch a probe instead of formal impeachment proceedings.
  • The investigation will be led by the New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Audio of a March 11 video conference with New York Democrats revealed tension between state lawmakers on how to move forward amid Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual misconduct scandal, Yahoo News reported Tuesday.

On March 11, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, discussed opening an investigation in the New York governor amid mounting claims of sexual misconduct from multiple women, according to the audio obtained by Yahoo News.

He described to his colleagues his reasoning behind his decision to launch a probe into the scandal instead of formal impeachment proceedings, Yahoo News reported.

“I try to come up with something that’s best for the body,” Heastie said during the meeting, according to the Yahoo News report. “Everybody might not love it, everybody may not like it, but I try to get us to a comfortable place that protects the integrity of this house.”

He maintained that launching an investigation first was by “due process,” saying that “people get accused of things.”

“These days any one of us in this place could be accused,” he said during the call, Yahoo News reported.

Assemblyman José Rivera agreed with Heastie, adding that, as elected officials, anyone on the New York Assembly could also be embroiled in a scandal.

Heastie later publicly announced an impeachment investigation soon after the meeting. The probe will be led by the New York Assembly Judiciary Committee, which will also look into allegations that the state under-reported COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and scrutiny surrounding faults in a bridge construction project.

“He’s got three major buckets of s— going on here,” Assemblyman John McDonald said, according to the Yahoo News report. McDonald showed support for Heastie’s plan on the call, Yahoo News reported.

At one point during the call, Heastie acknowledged that the New York State Assembly remained divided on how best to move forward with the emerging scandal involving the governor – “those who want to leave it to state Attorney General Tish James to investigate Cuomo’s conduct, those who hope the governor will step down, and the group that wants to see him impeached,” according to the Yahoo News report.

Other members of the New York State Assembly pushed back on Heastie’s decision to open the impeachment probe instead of formal proceedings.

New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim echoed the sentiment on the call, according to Yahoo News, saying: “We have a moral duty, a constitutional duty, to remove him from office if he does not resign.”

“We can punt it, but everyone now is watching every single thing we do,” Kim, who is an outspoken critic of the New York governor, continued. “We can make excuses, we can do a number of different things, but we know what’s going on. We know what the truth is.”

However, Yahoo News reported that many on the call supported his decision to move forward with an investigation led by the New York Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Representatives from Heastie’s office and Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

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While NY Dems call on Cuomo to resign, both the president and Pelosi are taking a more cautious approach

andrew cuomo resign governor
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at a vaccination site in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on February 22, 2021.

  • Biden said he wouldn’t urge NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step down amid sexual misconduct allegations.
  • Biden said he was awaiting the results of the pending investigation to “see what it brings us.”
  • Cuomo faces widespread dIvision within his party, with 13 prominent Dems calling for him to resign.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden has stopped short of calling for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign amid sexual misconduct allegations, adopting a “wait and see” approach instead.

“I think the investigation is underway and we should see what it brings us,” Biden told White House reporters on Sunday, referring to two separate investigations into Cuomo.

Cuomo has been accused by seven women of sexual misconduct. The governor allegedly asked employees about their sex lives and made unwanted sexual overtures towards them.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is conducting an independent investigation into Cuomo’s conduct.

Last week, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie authorized an impeachment investigation.

Cuomo is also facing resistance from his own party.

“He should resign, but because that is dependent on him, we also need to be willing and ready to investigate and impeach,” Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, a Democrat whose district covers Manhattan’s financial district and Chinatown, previously told Insider.

In total, 13 New York Democrats in all have called for Cuomo’s resignation, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Hakeem Jeffries, and Jerry Nadler.

Both New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have also urged Cuomo to step down, saying he has “lost the confidence” of New Yorkers. But as Axios’ Jonathan Swan noted, Cuomo and Schumer have been at odds for years, so Schumer’s opposition will likely mean little to the three-time governor.

According to Swan, the only person who could potentially persuade Cuomo to resign is President Biden.

“Unlike many of his other Democratic critics, Cuomo respects and likes Biden,” Swan wrote. “The two men have had good relations – during the transition, there was even (far-fetched) talk that the governor would be considered as Biden’s attorney general.”

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi also stopped short of calling for Cuomo’s removal.

Pelosi told reporters on Sunday that Cuomo should “look inside his heart” in order to “see if he can govern effectively.”

Cuomo, once lauded as a hero of the pandemic, has in recent weeks faced scrutiny for covering up the true number of nursing home deaths in the early months of the COVID-19 crisis.

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Cuomo’s aides pressured state officials to underrepresented the numbers of COVID-19-related deaths at nursing homes.

Cuomo initially said he withheld data in order to avoid scrutiny from then-President Trump. But new reports show that his office began concealing data before any federal inquiries were made.

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AOC, Chuck Schumer, and 11 other NY lawmakers call for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignations amid ‘alarming’ sexual misconduct allegations

aoc schumer
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left) and Chuck Schumer (right).

  • Thirteen prominent New York congressional Democrats called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step down.
  • Progressives like AOC joined establishment figures like Chuck Schumer to demand Cuomo’s resignation.
  • The Democratic governor has been engulfed in a firestorm of sexual misconduct allegations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Thirteen powerful Democratic congressional representatives from New York released statements on Friday calling for the state’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, to resign amid a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations.

Here are the lawmakers who demanded Cuomo’s resignation on Friday:

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
  • Rep. Jamaal Bowman
  • Rep. Jerry Nadler
  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney
  • Rep. Sean Maloney
  • Rep. Mondaire Jones
  • Rep. Yvette Clarke
  • Rep. Nydia Velazquez
  • Rep. Adriano Espaillat
  • Rep. Grace Meng

Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice previously called for Cuomo’s resignation, saying in a March 1 tweet that “the time has come” for him to step down.

“This week, the second sexual assault allegation and the sixth harassment allegation was leveled against Governor Cuomo,” Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman said in a joint statement Friday. “The fact that this latest report was so recent is alarming, and it raises concerns about the present safety and well-being of the administration’s staff. These allegations have all been consistent and highly-detailed and there are also credible media reports substantiating their accounts.”

“Unfortunately, the Governor is not only facing the accusation that he engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment and assault,” the statement continued. “There is also the extensive report from the Attorney General that found the Cuomo administration hid data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths from both the public and the state legislature.”

On Thursday, 59 New York state lawmakers released a joint letter demanding Cuomo’s resignation. The letter came on the heels of a sexual misconduct allegation from a sixth accuser, who reportedly told her supervisor that the governor “aggressively groped her in a sexually charged manner.” The accuser is currently a staffer in Cuomo’s office, according to the Albany Times Union, who first reported on her account.

The woman’s allegation was referred to the Albany police, which is now investigating the matter, The New York Times reported. A spokesman for the police told The Times that the incident may rise “to the level of a crime.”

Impeachment is emerging as a possibility for the governor, with New York’s process closely mirroring that of the US Congress. If half of the Assembly and two-thirds of the Senate vote against him, Cuomo would be removed from office.

However, one key difference between New York’s impeachment proceedings and Congress’s is that Cuomo would have to step aside during the trial as an acting governor takes his place. That would be Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who would also become governor if Cuomo resigns.

Senate Democrats from Long Island came out with a statement on Friday asking Cuomo to allow Hochul to serve as acting governor until New York Attorney General Tish James’ investigation into the allegations is complete.

Cuomo has refused to resign, and insists he “never touched anyone inappropriately.”

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AOC and 9 other NY lawmakers call for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step down amid ‘alarming’ sexual misconduct allegations

AOC
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Monday, August 24, 2020.

  • Ten prominent New York congressional Democrats called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step down.
  • Progressives like AOC and Rep. Jamaal Bowman joined longtime establishment Democrats to demand Cuomo’s resignation.
  • The Democratic governor has been engulfed in a firestorm of sexual misconduct allegations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ten Democratic congressional representatives from New York released statements on Friday morning calling for the state’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, to resign amid a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations.

Here are the lawmakers who demanded Cuomo’s resignation on Friday:

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
  • Rep. Jamaal Bowman
  • Rep. Jerry Nadler
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney
  • Rep. Sean Maloney
  • Rep. Mondaire Jones
  • Rep. Yvette Clarke
  • Rep. Nydia Velazquez
  • Rep. Adriano Espaillat
  • Rep. Grace Meng

Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice previously called for Cuomo’s resignation, saying in a March 1 tweet that “the time has come” for him to step down.

“This week, the second sexual assault allegation and the sixth harassment allegation was leveled against Governor Cuomo,” Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman said in a joint statement Friday. “The fact that this latest report was so recent is alarming, and it raises concerns about the present safety and well-being of the administration’s staff. These allegations have all been consistent and highly-detailed and there are also credible media reports substantiating their accounts.”

“Unfortunately, the Governor is not only facing the accusation that he engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment and assault,” the statement continued. “There is also the extensive report from the Attorney General that found the Cuomo administration hid data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths from both the public and the state legislature.”

On Thursday, 59 New York state lawmakers released a joint letter demanding Cuomo’s resignation. The letter came on the heels of a sexual misconduct allegation from a sixth accuser, who reportedly told her supervisor that the governor “aggressively groped her in a sexually charged manner.” The accuser is currently a staffer in Cuomo’s office, according to the Albany Times Union, who first reported on her account.

The woman’s allegation was referred to the Albany police, which is now investigating the matter, The New York Times reported. A spokesman for the police told The Times that the incident may rise “to the level of a crime.”

Impeachment is emerging as a possibility for the governor, with New York’s process closely mirroring that of the US Congress. If half of the Assembly and two-thirds of the Senate vote against him, Cuomo would be removed from office.

However, one key difference between New York’s impeachment proceedings and Congress’s is that Cuomo would have to step aside during the trial as an acting governor takes his place. That would be Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who would also become governor if Cuomo resigns.

Senate Democrats from Long Island came out with a statement on Friday asking Cuomo to allow Hochul to serve as acting governor until New York Attorney General Tish James’ investigation into the allegations is complete.

Cuomo has refused to resign, and insists he “never touched anyone inappropriately.”

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Marine behind viral sexual misconduct TikTok video says her perpetrator was an advocate for sexual assault victims

Four unidentified US Marines in Orlando, Florida on December 20, 2020.
Four unidentified US Marines at a sporting event in Orlando, Florida, on December 20.

  • The Marine behind a viral TikTok on sexual misconduct provided more information about the offense.
  • She said the man was a uniformed advocate tasked with supporting sexual assault victims.
  • The woman issued a statement highlighting the severity of the military’s sexual abuse problem.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Marine behind a viral TikTok video criticizing the Corps through tears for its reaction to sexual misconduct says the service member who wronged her was a victim advocate tasked with supporting sexual assault survivors.

“In October 2019 while deployed, I reported my coworker for sexual misconduct, who was also a Uniformed Victim Advocate,” the Marine said in a written statement first reported by CBS News, referring to US military personnel trained to assist victims of sexual assault.

“I had proof and witnesses,” she continued. “That same night my Command confronted this Marine and he admitted to what he had done.”

The Marine Corps has characterized the misconduct as the “wrongful appropriation and distribution of personal information,” with one official telling Insider that the offending actions were of a sexual nature. It apparently involved the nonconsensual distribution of photos or video, Insider learned.

“That next morning that same Marine was still the Platoon Sergeant holding formation while I hid in my room, ashamed of what had happened,” the woman wrote in her statement.

She said that the Marine was eventually removed from the installation where she was stationed but that the Corps left her in the dark on what actions were being taken.

She recalled telling her commanding officer: “I think we need a better vetting system for Uniformed Victim Advocates. I do not want to be in the same unit as this Marine when we get back to the United States.”

The woman said she learned just before she returned to the US that she would be assigned to the same office with the Marine who admitted to sexual misconduct. She was, however, able to be assigned to another unit.

In December, she testified against the Marine before a separation board, where she says she heard people defend the man, saying things like: “He made a mistake and fell into temptation, but he could be a great leader.”

The woman said the board decided to force the Marine out of the service but with an honorable discharge, an outcome she already considered unjust and unfair.

But then last Thursday, she said, she was notified that a commanding general at her installation had decided to retain the Marine “despite his crimes.” The Corps has said the separation process for the Marine is still ongoing.

‘Deeply disturbing’

Her understanding that the man is not being kicked out over the misconduct is what led her to make the TikTok video that went viral, a video in which she tearfully said: “This is exactly why f—ing females in the military f—ing kill themselves. This is exactly why nobody f—ing takes it seriously.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin responded to the video in a press briefing on Friday, calling it “deeply disturbing” and telling reporters he had asked his staff to look into what had happened.

II Marine Expeditionary Force said in a statement Tuesday that the accusations the woman made against her fellow service member were investigated and substantiated.

“The Marine was found guilty, receiving a non-judicial punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He was reduced in rank, received forfeiture of pay, and was processed for administrative separation from the service,” II Marine Expeditionary Force said in a statement Tuesday. “Final actions in the administrative separation process are ongoing.”

A II MEF representative confirmed that the man in question was, as the woman in the video said, a “trained Uniformed Victim Advocate.”

For the Marines, a Uniformed Victim Advocate is someone who has been trained “to provide information, guidance (referrals), and support to Marines and sailors who have been sexually assaulted,” according to the service. Support is available 24/7 to service members.

The woman, whom Insider confirmed to be a Marine sergeant, did not respond to requests for comment from Insider.

In her statement, she also said she had been sexually assaulted while in the Marines. “I have experienced Military Sexual Trauma throughout my entire time in the service,” she told CBS News.

Highlighting the severity of the sexual abuse problem in the military, she said that she has “connected with thousands of men and women who have dealt with Military Sexual Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome stemming from sexual assault and harassment while serving.”

“I am not a one in a million story,” she wrote.

CBS News reports that in 2019, there were 7,825 reports of sexual assault in the US armed forces, but only 363 of those cases, or 4.6%, ever went to court martial. Statistics for 2020 are not available, but the new defense secretary has said that addressing sexual assault and harassment is a top priority.

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The Lincoln Project condemns co-founder John Weaver after allegations of sexual misconduct towards young men

john weaver
John McCain (L) looks over some documents with then-campaign advisor John Weaver (R) while flying from Virginia Beach to Bismarck, North Dakota on February 28, 2000.

The Lincoln Project condemned its co-founder John Weaver after 21 men alleged he sent them unsolicited sexual overtures online. 

“John Weaver led a secret life that was built on a foundation of deception at every level. He is a predator, a liar, and an abuser. We extend our deepest sympathies to those who were targeted by his deplorable and predatory behavior,” the group said in a statement.

The New York Times reported f Sunday that 21 men have alleged Weaver sent them unsolicited and sexually provocative messages, including at one point to a 14-year-old boy. He sent overt sexual solicitations to at least 10 of the men over a period of years.

Weaver allegedly asked Cole Trickle Miele about his body when he was 14, but asked more direct questions after he turned 18. 

Miele had followed Weaver on Twitter in 2015 and immediately got a private message from him but didn’t think anything was strange about the situation. 

“I remember being a 14-year-old kid interested in politics and being semi-starstruck by John Weaver engaging in a conversation with me,” Miele told the Times. 

None of the men accused him of unlawful conduct. The messages led to just one consensual encounter, the Times reported. 

Read more:  Meet the corporate lobbying powerhouses that bankrolled Joe Biden’s star-studded, fireworks-filled inauguration bash

Weaver also offered professional help in exchange for sex, telling one man he would “spoil you when we see each other,” the Times reported. 

“Help you other times. Give advice, counsel, help with bills. You help me…sensually,” Weaver allegedly wrote. 

Weaver was a former advisor to the late Senator John McCain and in 2019 co-founded The Lincoln Project, a group of GOP operatives who opposed former President Donald Trump. They achieved notoriety last year for campaigning against Trump and his allies, with billboards in New York City mocking Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

Earlier this month, Axios reported that men had accused Weaver of sending inappropriate messages. 

At the time, Weaver told Axios: “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you.” 

“The truth is that I’m gay,” Weaver added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

Read more: Vaccine inequity on Capitol Hill: Members of Congress got their shots but essential Hill workers are still left waiting

Weaver took a “medical leave of absence” from the group last summer and “will not be returning to the group,” Axios said earlier this month. 

In their statement, The Lincoln Project said it was grateful Weaver was never around other members.

“The totality of his deceptions are beyond anything any of us could have imagined and we are absolutely shocked and sickened by it. Like so many, we have been betrayed and deceived by John Weaver,” the group said. “We are grateful beyond words that at no time was John Weaver in the physical presence of any member of The Lincoln Project.”

However, Ryan Girdusky, a writer for  The American Conservative who first reported on the allegations on January 11, told The Washington Post that the group’s statement was false and The Lincoln Project has known about the allegations since last year. 

The Lincoln Project did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Co-founder Steve Schmidt told the Times that the group was aware Weaver could be having relationships with men. However, he said: “There was no awareness or insinuations of any type of inappropriate behavior when we became aware of the chatter at the time.”

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