Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt steps down from board as scrutiny mounts over how it handled harassment allegations

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Connor Perrett
·3 min read
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Steve Schmidt
Steve Schmidt at a 2108 event in Beverly Hills, California. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
  • Steve Schmidt, a co-founder of anti-Trump PAC The Lincoln Project, resigned Friday from its board.

  • His resignation comes amid a scandal involving John Weaver, another co-founder.

  • Twenty-one men have accused co-founder John Weaver of sending unsolicited messages of a sexual nature.

  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Steve Schmidt, the co-founder of the anti-Trump PAC The Lincoln Project resigned from the organization's board Friday amid a slew of controversies at the organization, including concerns about its handling of sexual harassment allegations against co-founder John Weaver.

As The New York Times first reported, Schmidt resigned Friday from his position amid a scandal involving Weaver's sending messages of a sexual nature to young men without their consent. Schmidt will remain at the organization in an executive capacity following a temporary leave from the organization, The Times reported.

Schmidt joined the organization's board in November 2020, according to the report.

"I am incandescently angry about it," he said in a statement Weaver's conduct. Twenty-one men have alleged Weaver sent them unsolicited and sexually provocative messages over a period of years.

In his statement, Schmidt said he had faced sexual assault when he was a child.

"I am angry because I know the damage that he caused to me, and I know the journey that lies ahead for every young man that trusted, feared and was abused by John Weaver," he said Friday, announcing his resignation from the board.

Schmidt said he wasn't aware of the allegations against Weaver until last month, though one source told The New York Times that Schmidt had knowledge of the allegations last year, in October at the latest.

The Lincoln Project rose to prominence as a voice for members of the GOP who opposed the reelection of former President Donald Trump. But the organization has recently fallen into disarray with the resignation of several prominent figures over the past several months.

As The New York Times reported, board members Ron Steslow and Mike Madrid resigned in December. George Conway, the conservative lawyer and husband of longtime Trump confidant Kellyanne Conway, also left the PAC last year.

Jennifer Horn, the organization's sole female co-founder, also resigned in February and in a letter announcing her resignation criticized the organization's handling of the allegations against Weaver.

Six former Lincoln Project staff members have called to be released from their Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) so they can talk freely about their time at the organization and the way the organization handled the allegations against its co-founder, as Fox News reported.

In his letter Friday, Schmidt also took responsibility for the organization's widely condemned move to share leaked Twitter messages between Horn, and the 19th journalist Amanda Becker who was working on a report that detailed a "toxic" workplace culture at the Lincoln Project.

In a tweet, Conway had accused his former colleagues of possibly violating federal law in tweeting the screenshots of the direct messages.

"I was told it came from an anonymous source," Schmidt said. "That direct message should never have been made public. It is my job as the senior leader to accept responsibility for the tremendous misjudgment to release it."

Read the original article on Business Insider