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Lincoln Project acknowledges need for new 'structures' as embattled anti-Trump group resists calls to disband

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The executive director of The Lincoln Project on Thursday acknowledged the need for new “structures” as the embattled anti-Trump group resists calls from critics to disband.

Fred Wellman, the executive director, sent a memo, dated Feb. 17, to staff with the subject line: “What’s Next for The Lincoln Project.”

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“Despite the challenges we are facing at the moment, I am excited about the future of The Lincoln Project,” he wrote, adding that the organization is “ready to leverage our success with this most recent campaign cycle and build on the election momentum to take us to the next level to influence in our national political debate.”

Wellman said the group is “poised to continue to fulfill our promise to our millions of supporters and contributors and carry forward our fight to protect democracy,” adding that they are working on an “agenda of critical issues” impacting America, and are working on “refining” their role to “increase our influence in the national dialogue and policy making as we carry on with our core mission and purpose.”

“Before we can move forward with our ambitious agenda, we have to get our own house in order,” Wellman acknowledged. “We have been operating like a campaign, and we know that we now have to put in place some organizational structures and processes to continue our evolution.”

Wellman pointed to the “internal workplace concerns that have come to light,” calling them “troubling and disturbing,” and saying they are “committed to fixing them.”

Wellman’s comments come after a report that some Lincoln Project leaders may have known of sexual harassment allegations against co-founder John Weaver since March. 

Weaver has been accused by more than 20 young men – including former Lincoln Project employees – of sending sexually charged messages.

The anti-Trump super PAC has faced turmoil ever since the Weaver allegations surfaced last month. Reports indicate that its leaders may have been made aware about misconduct as early as June 2020, despite claiming they had no knowledge.

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The Lincoln Project added that it had released former and current staff from confidentiality agreements to discuss work conditions.

The group is working with law firm Paul Hastings and other management consultants to address the issues, Wellman said.

In addition, Wellman said that they have formed a “new Transition Advisory Committee” to oversee the work of external consultants and to manage the transition into “a sustainable and efficient outfit.” Wellman said the committee would be chaired by Tara Setmayer and said he would serve as the vice-chair.

Wellman also said that they will bring in “at least one — and perhaps more — people from within our community to help with this oversight, planning, and implementation of a new structure.”

“This is not a permanent committee, and will include core members of our leadership team who will ensure we institute the right formula for success and address the critical concerns that have surfaced about the organization,” he wrote.

Wellman said the committee would be tasked with providing “its full support and cooperation to the internal investigation of the Weaver matter and any systemic workplace culture issues, and will ensure that the proper corrections are made.”

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Weaver also noted that the committee would commission a “Stewardship Report” for their donors that will “break down expenditures so that our donors understand how we spent their contributions.”

“We are committed to accountability and transparency—to our employees, our donors, and our millions of followers who are counting on us to carry forward with our vital mission,” he wrote.

The Lincoln Project launched in November 2019 and quickly emerged as a powerful player in the political fight against Trump and his allies in Congress.

The PAC saw enormous financial success in its efforts to remove Trump from office, raising $90 million since its creation in 2019. Only $27 million of that amount, however, went toward advertising costs, and the organization has spent more than $50 million on consulting firms controlled by the group’s leaders.

Co-founders Jennifer Horn and Stephen Schmidt have resigned. Kurt Bardella, a former senior adviser, also recently resigned. George Conway, former Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway’s husband and Lincoln Project co-founder, left the group in August 2020.

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Bardella, this week, tweeted that The Lincoln Project should “just shut it down already…it’s over.”

Fox News’ Gillian Turner and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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