According to interviews conducted with 21 men, Weaver would often send them messages offering to help them start their political careers. He would also send sexually explicit messages, including one where he asked a 14-year-old about his body.
Weaver’s conversations with these young men didn’t materialize into actual meet-ups, save for one instance, where Weaver and another individual met consensually. None of the men interviewed accused Weaver of unlawful conduct, but instead said that they felt targeted by a prominent older man who worked in the field they were interested in. They also feared losing opportunities if they didn’t respond to his messages.
Messages that Weaver sent to at least 10 men were more explicitly sexual, including ones in which he proposed an exchange of professional help for sex, promising to "help you other times. Give advice, counsel, help with bills. You help me … sensually.”
The Lincoln Project issued a statement denouncing Weaver, calling him “a predator, a liar, and an abuser.”
The Lincoln Project today released the following statement. pic.twitter.com/k9QkUsiFO5— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) January 31, 2021
Leaders from the Lincoln Project said they didn’t know about the allegations until January, after a data analyst named Garrett Herrin penned an article for The American Conservative and an open letter on Twitter, where he accused Weaver of “grooming” these young men online.
I am calling on the Lincoln Project to launch a full investigation into allegations of sexual harassment leveled against John Weaver, one of the organization's co-founders. Please read my letter to @ProjectLincoln below. https://t.co/EnD6rMXsyh pic.twitter.com/Fim8d6Hqtn— Garrett Herrin (@GarrettHerrin) January 12, 2021
The accusations led Weaver to issue a statement saying that he had sent “inappropriate” messages and apologized “to the men I made uncomfortable.” He also said that he thought all of the communications were consensual—and that he wouldn’t go back to the Lincoln Project.
The 61-year-old is a veteran Republican strategist who helped run John McCain’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008 and John Kasich’s in 2016. Weaver founded the Lincoln Project alongside other Republicans who are vehemently anti-Trump. Steve Schmidt, a co-founder of the group, told The Times that the group was “outraged and horrified” when they heard about Weaver’s actions.