Former Lincoln Project employees ask to be released from their NDAs to speak about John Weaver

The anti-Trump organization had been rocked by a scandal about one of its co-founders

Updated: February 12, 2021 - 10:08am

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Six former employees of The Lincoln Project, founded to defeat Donald Trump's 2020 presidential reelection bid, are asking to be released from their nondisclosure agreements so they can speak on the record about project co-founder John Weaver, who, it was recently uncovered, spent years harassing young men online.

In an open letter, acquired by the New York Times, the former employees state they want to provide information to "aid the press, public and our donors in answering questions relevant to the public interest."

Lincoln Project leaders have said that former employees should contact them directly should they wish to be released from nondisclosure agreements. The six who authored the letter, however, say they are not comfortable doing so in part due to co-founder Steve Schmidt's repeated denials that he knew anything about Weaver's actions, and in part due to comments Schmidt has made about Jennifer Horn, another co-founder, who recently departed the organization. 

In the letter, the former employees also took issue with the group's initial claim that accusations being made about Weaver were merely hit jobs coming from supporters of former President Trump.

Horn, who resigned last week from the project, says that when she found out about Weaver's conduct last month, she also found out that other group leaders had ignored signs and warnings about Weaver's online habits.

"When I spoke to one of the founders to raise my objections and concerns, I was yelled at, demeaned and lied to," wrote Horn in a statement.

Horn adds in her statement, "When The New York Times report on Weaver came out recently, I started getting phone calls from some victims who shared very disturbing stories about their interactions with him – interactions that apparently started nearly a year ago and, according to these young men, were communicated to others in the Lincoln Project."

The Lincoln Project, started by former and current Republicans, abruptly released a statement recently claiming that Horn's departure was due to a dispute over finances. The organization claimed that she had demanded "an immediate 'signing bonus' payment of $250,000 and a $40,000-per-month consulting contract," inn addition to a seat on the organization's board, a television show, podcast, and full staff. 

Horn roundly denied the claims, calling them "patently false." Of course, it was recently revealed that of the $90 million raised by the Lincoln Project, more than $50 million has gone to firms controlled by the group's leaders and partners.

Also on Thursday night, the Lincoln Project posted screenshots from Horn's twitter account revealing a private conversation with a reporter. The account quickly removed the images, which Horn did not give permission to use – depending on the situation, unauthorized access to an individual's social media account may be illegal.  

It was revealed last month that Weaver, a longtime Republican political operative who has helmed several high-profile GOP election campaigns over the last decade, spent years sending unsolicited and sexually suggestive messages to dozens of young men – some of whom were underage at the time the messaging began.

In recent days, multiple reports have indicated that several Lincoln Project cofounders and leaders knew about Weaver's behavior as early as last summer. Weaver took a medical absence from the group beginning in August, and announced in January that he would not return. 

The project has repeatedly disavowed Weaver, saying that he had "betrayed us all." Top Lincoln Project officials announced Thursday that they were hiring an outside investigator to dig into Weaver's time with the organization and his actions throughout his tenure.