- The Magazine
One of the cofounders of the right-wing anti-Donald Trump political action committee The Lincoln Project has come out as gay and apologized for sending “inappropriate” messages to men.
The Lincoln Project found viral success and raised millions of dollars during the 2020 presidential campaign for its videos and ads attacking Donald Trump and those who enabled him.
In a statement sent to Axios, John Weaver — who founded Lincoln Project in 2019 with three other right-wing figures — publicly came out and said he was stepping down from his role at the PAC.
It came after investigative journalist Scott Stedman reported multiple allegations of Weaver allegedly sending explicit messages to young men and using his political influence to exploit them.
Stedman first tweeted about his own experience with Weaver, including sharing screenshots of a Jan. 9 conversation in which Weaver calls Stedman “hot.”
Things escalated further on Jan. 15 when Stedman published an article on Forensic News claiming that Weaver had sent “sexually suggestive messages to at least 30 young men” aged between 19 and 28 years old.
In addition, some of the men claimed that Weaver had sent unsolicited photos of his penis and had offered them work in exchange for sexual favors.
Weaver told Axios that he thought the conversations were “consensual” and said that some of the claims are “categorically false and outrageous.”
“The truth is that I’m gay,” he said. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”
According to Stedman, his exchange with Weaver occurred through Direct Messages on Twitter, with Weaver calling him “my boy” and telling him, “Your new hair color is hot! Keep it that way!”
In another message, he tells Stedman he is “smart, clever, handsome, hot.”
In his tweets, Stedman said that he found the exchange “deeply uncomfortable” and decided to share it “because I know there are more people who endured this kind of grooming with many more explicit details. As the Lincoln Project continues to grow financially, I felt compelled to share.”
I don't owe you guys anything but here. pic.twitter.com/qFlkUtxelX
— Scott Stedman (@ScottMStedman) January 10, 2021
After posting the tweets, Stedman said he’d received “multiple DMs of people telling me they experienced this (and worse).”
“For those asking why speaking up about this now: There are others, including some who reached out to me in recent days. Many many many many others, some afraid to say anything,” he tweeted.
Stedman shared some of the messages he reportedly received in his Forensic News article. One man claimed that, while he was 21 years old and in college, Weaver sent him “disgusting” messages, including one that read, “you have beautiful dark hair…so dark eyes…perfect. fuck.”
Weaver allegedly offered to fly the man to Austin, Tex., and assist him in finding work, with later messages saying he wished the man was “in Austin” and adding, “When I take you to dinner and drinks, we are going to have fun too… in addition to mentorship.”
Another man alleged that Weaver asked him to dinner, before later switching their meeting to his hotel room. The man claims that Weaver asked him for a massage, before pushing him to perform oral sex. “The way he pushed and pushed was definitely creepy,” he said.
In his statement to Axios, Weaver apologized for making people “uncomfortable,” but said some of the allegations against him are “categorically false.”
“To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry,” he said. “They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you.”
Weaver added that while he was “taking full responsibility for the inappropriate messages and conversations, I want to state clearly that the other smears being leveled at me…are categorically false and outrageous.”
He also said that he had stepped down from his role at The Lincoln Project, adding that the PAC’s “defense of the Republic and fight for democracy is vital.”
Lincoln Project responded to the allegations against Weaver by telling Axios, “John’s statement speaks for itself.”
Prior to cofounding the PAC, Weaver was a notable right-wing figure who spent ten years as an adviser to former Arizona Sen. John McCain, including working on his 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns, and also worked on former Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 2016 presidential campaign.
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