If not, why not? It sure was obvious to me. Even more than the rest of the Never-Trumpers, the Lincoln Project had the stench of insincerity and ethics rot all over it. Why would alleged Republicans and conservatives set out to defeat their party’s incumbent President and hand over power to the most radical and irresponsible incarnation of the Democratic Party since the Confederacy? The most visible member of the cabal for those who are not political junkies (founders Mike Madrid, Rick Wilson, Steve Schmidt, Reed Galen above are the ultimate D.C. insiders, aka “swamp creatures”) was Kellyanne Conway’s lawyer hubby George, who used the news media’s hatred of President Trump to get publicity for his relentless attacks on his wife’s boss, embarrassing her and putting her family life in conflict with her responsibilities to the President. Who does that? Answer: a self-serving, untrustworthy creep like George Conway, that’s who.
Organizations led by unethical people behave unethically and eventually self-destruct; the Lincoln Project was a lesson in signature significance waiting to be taught. Now it is falling apart in chunks, as ploys by arrogant and awful people always do, even if they thrive for a while because, as P.T Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” The suckers in this case were Trump Deranged progressives, who were so thrilled to have alleged conservatives linking arms with them to bring down an elected President with lies and abuses of power that they never asked the crucial ethics inquiry question “What’s going on here?“
Glenn Greenwald, in a no-holds-barred excoriation of the group, answers that question with a tasty mix of disgust and brio:
That the primary effect of the Lincoln Project was to personally enrich its key operatives by cynically exploiting the fears of U.S. liberals has long been obvious. Reporting throughout 2020 conclusively demonstrated that the vast majority of the tens of millions of dollars raised by the group was going to firms controlled by its founders. One of its most prominent founders — GOP consultant Rick Wilson — personally collected $65,000 from liberals through GoFundMe for an anti-Trump film he kept promising but which never came; to this date, he refuses to explain what he did with that money.
A study conducted after the 2020 election found that the group’s effect on the election’s outcome was trivial to non-existent — not surprising given its penchant for spending money on ads that aired in electorally irrelevant places such as Washington, D.C. or which circulated almost exclusively in liberal cable news and social media venues, and thus had no purpose other than to enable its consultants to take large commissions from the ad spending. They were producing ads solely for liberals, with the overriding intent not of defeating Trump but inflating their net worth. And it worked: until they were no longer needed.
Heading into the 2020 election, most of the U.S. media was uninterested in, if not outright hostile to, any reporting that might have helped President Trump’s re-election bid. As a result, the Lincoln Project continued to enjoy media veneration even as the magnitude of its scam became increasingly obvious. But with Trump now safely vanquished, the Lincoln Project is dispensable, and the protective shield it enjoyed against any real journalistic scrutiny is — like its reputation and prospects for future profiteering — rapidly crumbling.
On Monday, the Associated Press published a comprehensive exposé with new facts about two of the group’s growing scandals. It reported that “in June 2020, members of the organization’s leadership were informed in writing and in subsequent phone calls of at least 10 specific allegations of harassment against co-founder John Weaver, including two involving Lincoln Project employees” — directly contradicting the group’s emphatic denial that it knew nothing about Weaver’s misconduct until the New York Times reported on them at the end of January. As AP delicately put it, these new materials “raise questions about the Lincoln Project’s statement last month that it was ‘shocked’ when accusations surfaced publicly this year.” The gay news outlet The Washington Blade on Tuesday published emails and other correspondence similarly demonstrating the high likelihood that the group’s denials regarding its past knowledge of Weaver’s misconduct were false, as did New York Magazine.
From the AP report:
For the collection of GOP consultants and former officials, being anti-Trump was becoming very good for business. Of the $90 million Lincoln Project has raised, more than $50 million has gone to firms controlled by the group’s leaders….
Since its creation, the Lincoln Project has raised $90 million. But only about a third of the money, roughly $27 million, directly paid for advertisements that aired on broadcast and cable, or appeared online, during the 2020 campaign, according to an analysis of campaign finance disclosures and data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.
That leaves tens of millions of dollars that went toward expenses like production costs, overhead — and exorbitant consulting fees collected by members of the group.
“It raises questions about where the rest of the money ultimately went,” said Brendan Fischer, an attorney with the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington. “Generally speaking, you’d expect to see a major super PAC spend a majority or more of their money on advertisements and that’s not what happened here.”
The vast majority of the cash was split among consulting firms controlled by its founders, including about $27 million paid to a small firm controlled by Galen and another $21 million paid to a boutique firm run by former Lincoln Project member Ron Steslow, campaign finance disclosures show.
Naturally George Conway quickly turned on his supposed colleagues, not because he was shocked–shocked!—at the conduct of the organization that he helped found and shilled for, but because he’s a born betrayer.
Today, co-founder Steve Schmidt joined several other Lincoln Project principles in resigning from the group in the wake of the John Weaver scandal. This was an organization of rats, and the fact that they are fleeing their sinking metaphorical ship was pre-ordained.