WASHINGTON (AP) — The influential anti-Donald Trump group Lincoln Project is denouncing one of its co-founders after multiple reports that over several years he sexually harassed young men looking to break into politics.
The Lincoln Project in a statement on Sunday called co-founder John Weaver, 61, “a predator, a liar, and an abuser” following reports that he repeatedly sent unsolicited and sexually charged messages online to young men, often while suggesting he could help them get work in politics.
“The totality of his deceptions are beyond anything any of us could have imagined and we are absolutely shocked and sickened by it,” the Lincoln Project, the most prominent “Never Trump” Republican super PAC to emerge during the 45th president’s time in the White House, said in its statement.
The online magazine The American Conservative first reported the sexual harassment allegations earlier this month.
Days later, Weaver, a strategist who advised the late Republican Sen. John McCain and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich in their unsuccessful runs for the White House, acknowledged in a statement to the web site Axios that he had sent “inappropriate” messages he “viewed as consensual, mutual conversations at the time.”
The statement by Weaver came after several men had taken to social media to accuse him of sending sexually suggestive messages, sometimes coupled with offers of employment or political advancement.
The Lincoln Project made its most substantive comments about the mounting allegations against Weaver after The New York Times reported on Sunday that the paper had interviewed 21 men who said they had been harassed by Weaver.
One of the alleged victims told The Times he started receiving messages from Weaver when he was only 14. The messages became more pointed after he turned 18.
The Lincoln Project’s other founders included 2012 Mitt Romney presidential adviser Stuart Stevens, former McCain and George W. Bush strategist Steve Schmidt, and GOP ad maker Rick Wilson.
The group throughout the 2020 election cycle produced some of the most eviscerating broadsides against Trump, questioning the president and his aides’ morality and leadership.
The Lincoln Project said in its statement that at “no time was John Weaver in the physical presence of any member” of the super PAC.
Weaver took medical leave from the Lincoln Project last summer. He told Axios earlier this month that he did not plan to return to the group.
Weaver did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.