The anti-Trump group Lincoln Project claims to be “shocked and sickened” by allegations that co-founder John Weaver sexually harassed young men, but specific accusations have reportedly been known to them since last summer, and rumors about Weaver’s alleged predatory behavior have been simmering for decades. Among the political elite, Weaver’s perverted predilections may well have been an open secret.
The Lincoln Project threw Weaver under the bus in a strongly-worded statement on Sunday, only after the New York Times published an exposé detailing the longtime political consultant’s habit of sexually harassing young men on its staff.
The Times piece features interviews with 21 men who accused Weaver of sending “unsolicited and sexually provocative messages online to young men, often while suggesting he could help them get work in politics. ” One of his alleged victims was only 14-years-old while he was allegedly being sexually groomed by Weaver, who is married.
The @NYTimes reports that Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) co-founder John Weaver (@JWGOP) sent unsolicited & sexually provocative messages online to at least 21 young men, including messaging a 14-year-old high school boy.https://t.co/Fq6RH9IeWA pic.twitter.com/t7WbsqAKU1
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) January 31, 2021
The story was actually broken several weeks ago by conservative journalist Ryan James Girdusky in the American Conservative.
Girdusky’s article, which was titled “The Lincoln Project’s Predator,” was published on January 11, and prompted a public statement from Weaver four days later.
One accuser told Girdusky that he had communicated with several young men who had been solicited by Weaver for a job, “after which he propositioned them for sex as part of the offer.” One of the men claimed to have been “strung along for days about a possible job,” and when they finally met at his hotel, Weaver demanded they engage in sexual intercourse. They allegedly had consensual sex, “but Weaver never made good on the job offer.”
Girdusky reported that another “young man said that Weaver reached out to him with the promise of a job opportunity,” and that Weaver would condescendingly call him “my boy.”
Additionally, a college student, told Girdusky that Weaver offered him an internship in Washington, DC, or Austin, Texas. During telephone conversations, Weaver allegedly grilled the student about his body type and weight in a grossly inappropriate manner.
Girdusky wrote that when the young man told Weaver his body type was “about average,” Weaver responded, “oh my boy, I’m sure certain parts of you are well above average.”
After that exchange, the student blocked Weaver’s number and social media.
Girdusky pointed out that he had been working on the story since last summer, but faced “multiple setbacks as victims dropped out” because of fears that coming out publicly would hurt their job prospects.
“Without someone willing to go on record, the story was dead. Publications wouldn’t touch it because of fear that they’d be sued,” Girdusky said.
On January 15, Weaver admitted to sending the “inappropriate” messages to young men and apologized.
“The truth is that I’m gay. And that I have a wife and two kids who I love,” Weaver said in a statement to Axios. “My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”
Girdusky blasted the Lincoln Project for pretending to be “shocked” by the sordid allegations when they were known to at least some of their members since last summer.
This statement by the @ProjectLincoln is an absolute lie.
Members did know. Young men approached them about the accusations. Members knew I was writing the story and warned John Weaver pic.twitter.com/BZms5iLgpL
— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) January 31, 2021
According to one young man Girdusky spoke with, he “reached out” to Lincoln Project co-founder Mike Madrid and Lincoln Project’s social media “guru” Keith Edwards about the accusations, and they never responded. Lincoln Project Executive Director Sarah Lenti. Girdusky allegedly told him she knew about the accusations, and “brushed it off.”
According to several mutual friends, @MollyJongFast heard I had this story back in the early summer. And that it was circulating several outlets.
— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) January 31, 2021
Republican political consultant Karl Rove first brought to light allegations about Weaver’s predatory behavior back in 1986, only to see the corporate media dismiss it as an anti-gay “dirty trick.”
The Atlantic alluded to the “rumor” in a 2004 hit piece against Rove.
Another example of Rove’s methods involves a former ally of Rove’s from Texas, John Weaver, who, coincidentally, managed McCain’s bid in 2000. Many Republican operatives in Texas tell the story of another close race of sorts: a competition in the 1980s to become the dominant Republican consultant in Texas. In 1986 Weaver and Rove both worked on Bill Clements’s successful campaign for governor, after which Weaver was named executive director of the state Republican Party. Both were emerging as leading consultants, but Weaver’s star seemed to be rising faster. The details vary slightly according to which insider tells the story, but the main point is always the same: after Weaver went into business for himself and lured away one of Rove’s top employees, Rove spread a rumor that Weaver had made a pass at a young man at a state Republican function. Weaver won’t reply to the smear, but those close to him told me of their outrage at the nearly two-decades-old lie. Weaver was first made unwelcome in some Texas Republican circles, and eventually, following McCain’s 2000 campaign, he left the Republican Party altogether. He has continued an active and successful career as a political consultant—in Texas and Alabama, among other states—and is currently working for McCain as a Democrat.
The New Republic included the vignette in a 2009 piece denouncing Rove as a “lifelong gay baiter.”
The details vary slightly according to which insider tells the story, but the main point is always the same: after Weaver went into business for himself and lured away one of Rove’s top employees, Rove spread a rumor that Weaver had made a pass at a young man at a state Republican function. Weaver won’t reply to the smear, but those close to him told me of their outrage at the nearly two-decades-old lie. Weaver was first made unwelcome in some Texas Republican circles, and eventually, following McCain’s 2000 campaign, he left the Republican Party altogether.
Conservative activists are now demanding to know how many of Weaver’s colleagues at the Lincoln Project knew about his predatory behavior.
How many people did this Lincoln Project creep harass (or worse) because his grifter colleagues concealed it? How many media publications helped cover it up and enable more such conduct? https://t.co/807JKqsnAr
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) January 31, 2021
“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,” the Lincoln Project wrote in it’s Jan. 31 statement. “We extend our deepest sympathies to those who were targeted by his deplorable and predatory behavior. We are disgusted and outraged that someone in a position of power and trust would use it for these means.”
After the New York Times story came out, the Biden-supporting group insisted that Weaver’s behavior was worse than they thought.
“The totality of his deceptions are beyond anything any of us could have imagined and we are absolutely shocked and sickened by it,” the statement said. “Like so many, we have been betrayed and deceived by John Weaver. We are grateful beyond words that at no time was John Weaver in the physical presence of any member of The Lincoln Project.”
Karl Rove was asked about Weaver during a segment on Fox News Monday afternoon.
“I’ve actually known about this pattern of behavior since 1988,” Rove told host Martha MacCallum. “All I want to say is the statement from those 21 young men who talked about how they’d been approached by Mr. Weaver … that statement speaks for itself and I don’t have anything to add to it.”