- The Magazine
Conservative political action committee The Lincoln Project has distanced itself from co-founder John Weaver after he was accused of sending sexually suggestive messages to multiple young men, including a 14-year-old boy.
Weaver came out as gay last month after several men accused the Republican strategist of sending “inappropriate” messages, including allegedly sending photos of his penis and using his political influence to exploit them.
Those allegations, reported by Forensic News, led Weaver — who is married to a woman and has two children — to come out as gay and take “full responsibility for the inappropriate messages and conversations” but called some of the allegations against him “categorically false and outrageous.”
However, The New York Times reports that 21 men have now accused Weaver of sending “unsolicited and sexually provocative messages,” including one who was 14 when Weaver started messaging him.
At least ten of the men said that Weaver had offered to help them advance their careers in exchange for sex, with one message from Weaver telling a man he would “spoil you when we see each other,” as well as “help” the man at “other times.”
“Give advice, counsel, help with bills,” Weaver explained. “You help me…sensually.”
In another exchange, Weaver offered to meet up with a recent college graduate to discuss politics. After the man told him he ran marathons, Weaver responded, “At least I know that whatever we end up doing, you could do it multiple times in a row,” adding a winking emoticon.
One of the men, Cole Trickle Miele, said Weaver started messaging him when he was 14, after he followed Weaver — who was working on former Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign at the time — in 2015.
Weaver subsequently started messaging Miele, with those messages becoming increasingly “uncomfortable,” including asking Miele about his body. When Miele was 17, Weaver asked if he was still in school. Miele confirmed that he was, to which Weaver responded, “You look older.”
In March 2020, when Miele was 18, Weaver told him he wanted to “come to Vegas and take you to dinner and drinks and spoil you!” He then called Miele “my boy” and asked him for his “stats,” adding, “or I can guess! if that is easier or more fun!”
The Times reports that, of the 21 men they spoke to, only one had a physical encounter with Weaver and said it was consensual.
Weaver responded to the additional allegations by reiterating his statement to Axios and adding that he was “disheartened and sad” that he had “brought discomfort” to the men.
“In living a deeply closeted life, I allowed my pain to cause pain for others,” Weaver told the Times. “For that I am truly sorry to these men and everyone and for letting so many people down.”
The Lincoln Project issued a statement distancing itself from Weaver, who co-founded the organization, calling him a “predator, a liar, and an abuser.”
“John Weaver led a secret life that was built on a foundation of deception at every level,” the statement reads. “He is a predator, a liar, and an abuser. We extend our deepest sympathies to those who were targeted by his deplorable and predatory behavior. We are disgusted and outraged that someone in a position of power and trust would use it for these means.”
They continued: “The totality of his deceptions are beyond anything any of us could have imagined and we are absolutely shocked and sickened by it. Like so many, we have been betrayed and deceived by John Weaver. We are grateful beyond words that at no time was John Weaver in the physical presence of any member of The Lincoln Project.”
The Lincoln Project today released the following statement. pic.twitter.com/k9QkUsiFO5
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) January 31, 2021
Steve Schmidt, who co-founded the group alongside Weaver, told the Times that The Lincoln Project was unaware of the allegations against Weaver until they were reported last month and said Weaver had denied the claims. However, he said some were aware that Weaver was having relationships with men, albeit ones they believed to be consensual and not inappropriate.
Weaver stepped down from The Lincoln Project after the initial allegations were reported, but he had been on extended medical leave from the group since last summer.
Established by conservatives to oppose Donald Trump and prevent him from winning a second term in office, The Lincoln Project gained notoriety for its commercials and videos targeting Trump and key figures in his administration, both during the campaign and in the weeks prior to Trump leaving office.
Prior to co-founding The Lincoln Project, 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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