Lincoln Project Co-Founder Accused of Sending Inappropriate Messages

Then-GOP presidential candidate John Kasich (R) talks to his chief strategist, John Weaver (L), on his campaign bus in 2015.
Reuters/Brian Snyder

A co-founder of the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump political action committee spearheaded by current and former Republicans, has come under fire for abusing his power and sending lewd messages to more than a dozen of young men.

John Weaver, 61, sent inappropriate messages to teenagers as young as 14 years old and sent sexual messages to many others, the New York Times reported. For years, Weaver wielded his authority over these young men and requested they send sexual messages in exchange for political careers, according to the report, which tallied allegations from 21 men.

Weaver is known for working as a senior advisor and strategist on the Republican presidential campaigns for John McCain in 2000 and 2008, and John Kasich in 2016. According to messages shared with the Times, Weaver made several suggestive comments about the men’s bodies, including asking men to help him “sensually” and send a “thirst trap.” Only one of those messages resulted in something consensual and physical, according to the allegations.

In 2015, Cole Trickle Miele told the Times he was just a teenager when he received a personal message via Twitter from Weaver.

“I remember being a 14-year-old kid interested in politics and being semi-starstruck by John Weaver engaging in a conversation with me,” Trickle Miele, now 19, said in an interview with the Times.

However, the messages became increasingly inappropriate.

“Are you in HS still?” Weaver asked the teenager in June of 2018. Trickle Miele told Weaver he was still in High School. “You look older,” Weaver replied. “You’ve gotten taller.”

Meanwhile, colleagues at the Lincoln Project told the Times they were in the dark about Weaver’s inappropriate and explicit behavior. The leaders claimed they learned about Weaver’s messages only recently through the news media and Twitter. When a spate of allegations hit social media last month, Weaver maintained that his interactions were consensual and later announced he would not return to his position at the Lincoln Project.

“The truth is that I’m gay. 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,” Weaver said in a statement to Axios. “To the men, I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate, and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you.”

Weaver’s colleagues have since blasted the now-disgraced founder. Weaver still claims the discussions were consensual and said the messages are a result of living a “deeply closeted life.”

“I am so disheartened and sad that I may have brought discomfort to anyone in what I thought at the time were mutually consensual discussions,” Weaver told the Times. “I allowed my pain to cause pain for others. For that, I am truly sorry to these men and everyone and for letting so many people down.”

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