Lincoln Project Founder Accused of Harassment, Grooming

John Weaver sent sexually suggestive messages to at least two dozen men and offered political connections while asking for sexual favors.

January 13, 2021 6:29 pm By

John Weaver, a former top aide to Senator John McCain, Governor John Kasich, and a co-founder of the anti-Trump group the Lincoln Project, sent sexually suggestive messages to at least 30 young men and in some cases, sent unsolicited pictures of his penis, flew political ambitious men to his location for massages, and offered jobs in exchange for sexual relations.


After being professionally acquainted with Weaver, this reporter received unwanted personal messages from the political strategist in which Weaver said he had “advice” before commenting on this reporter’s looks, calling him “hot.”
“Good morning, my boy,” Weaver said before making the comments: “Your new hair color is hot! Keep it that way!! Look…smart, clever, handsome, hot…you have it all.

John Weaver DM

John Weaver Direct Messages to Scott Stedman

Later, Weaver offered a “joint venture” before asking for a phone call multiple times, which was declined.


The situation pales in comparison to other activity conducted by Weaver, according to more than a dozen sources who shared messages with Forensic News and recounted conversations. Many asked to remain anonymous given the sensitivity of the subject and the allegations.

All alleged that they received uncomfortable and sometimes sexually explicit messages from Weaver after originally connecting with him in a professional capacity. The ages of the men that spoke to Forensic News ranged from 19 to 28-years-old and most indicated that they were in college or had recently graduated and were looking for jobs in politics.

Though most of the conversations were not entertained by the men, some did respond and engaged Weaver in sexually-charged conversations. This behavior differs from other experiences where Weaver dangled his political connections and access to high-profile job opportunities in an attempt to receive sexual favors. The crux of the complaints levied by the men is that Weaver used his position of power to exploit them as they were beginning their careers.

In most cases, Weaver initiated contact over Twitter Direct Message, though many times later conversations included phone calls. Weaver, according to the people who shared details and screenshots of conversations, attempted multiple times to pay for travel or other expenses in order to meet in-person. At least two people took him up on his offer, expecting the meetings to be about professional opportunities.

In one case, Weaver sent pictures of himself without asking for consent. In other conversations, Weaver asked about the sexual histories of the men.


One man, who was a 21-year-old college student at the time he received untoward messages from Weaver and asked not to be named, described the advances as “disgusting.” Weaver, in Twitter Direct Messages seen by Forensic News told the student, “you have beautiful dark hair…so dark eyes…perfect. fuck.

Later, Weaver offered to fly the man to Austin, Texas before extending an offer of help finding the 21-year-old job opportunities.

; ) wish you were in Austin,” Weaver said. “When I take you to dinner and drinks, we are going to have fun too… in addition to mentorship.” The two men then shared physical descriptions after Weaver asked for the person’s “stats.” A different source corroborated this line of questioning by Weaver, noting that he was asked questions about his genitals.

After one man in his twenties, who recently graduated from college, liked a tweet from the political strategist, Weaver Direct Messaged the man and asked him about his life and professional plans, before asking more personal questions, like, “what do you like doing for fun? If you’re showing some guy around?

Weaver responded with interests of his own, including, “pushing the limits with new friends…” After the man attempted to steer the conversation back to politics, Weaver pushed on with personal questions and discussed traveling to meet the man: “If I come all the way to [city name redacted for privacy reasons], want it to be epic fun, you know.”

 

In hindsight, I feel ashamed for even letting it slide,” the man told me. “At the time I just thought it was cool that someone big in politics was talking to me, a poli sci graduate. I had just graduated into a pandemic and was desperately trying to network/start a career.”


Another man in his early twenties who also was initially drawn to networking and political job opportunities extended by Weaver agreed to meet for dinner before Weaver changed the venue to his hotel. Weaver “always made it sound like he would help me network, meet the right people, help me get good political jobs,” the man who wanted to remain anonymous told me.
After arriving at the hotel, things changed. Weaver pressured the man to give him a massage.

Later on, Weaver asked the man to be “licked down there,” which shocked the man given his expectation of having a professional discussion over dinner. Two other men corroborated this kind of episode, telling Forensic News that Weaver wanted them to give him massages at his hotel room.

he never even cared to talk about work” in person, the man said. “the way he pushed and pushed was definitely creepy.

“All I wanted was dinner or a drink to talk and see what the relationship was, not to start in his bedroom without food or drink but be convinced to give him a massage,” he said.


Josh P., a twenty-something with a Master’s degree in International Relations also received unwanted Twitter messages from Weaver and, like the other man, described the advances as unsettling.
Josh told me that Weaver initiated contact with him and extended job opportunities while “HEAVILY HEAVILY” implying that the work would be in exchange for sexual favors.

During a two-hour phone call John was insistent we meet in New Mexico in order to discuss job prospects. Then as the offers began to get more extravagant regarding jobs and travel, it became clear that there was an expectation of sex,” Josh explained. “He told me he could gt me a job anywhere I wanted, even with Macron’s people in France. He offered to take me to the Rothschild wineries.”

Josh urged others to refrain from using the allegations as a political tool by those who oppose the Lincoln Project or in any effort to advance a pro-Trump political agenda. “The experience of victims is not fodder for a political civil war,” he said.

Another source who spoke to Forensic News alleged that Weaver sent pictures of himself via Twitter without first asking permission. The person, who was 19 at the time, was shaken by the experience and, like the others, expected to establish a professional relationship with Weaver before the conversations turned personal and sexual.


A second source, who was 28-years-old at the time of the incident in 2016, connected with Weaver via Twitter Direct Messages and discussed politics like the others, but experienced a more egregious act.

I’m very into US politics so we were chatting about that and then he asked for my email because he wanted to send me something – I thought it was an article or something like that,” the man told me.

After providing his email address with the expectation that Weaver would send him a news article, the man received an email with no subject title. “For you!” Weaver said in the body of the email captioned above a picture of his penis. The email address used by Weaver is corroborated via open-source materials.

I was not, and am not interested in him in that way, at all,” the man affirmed to me. “I never replied to him and he never messaged me again.

Like many others, the situation left the man perturbed. “for me personally, the hypocrisy, coupled with the abuse is unbelievably galling.”


In total, more than 20 people, all young men, affirmed that Weaver regularly used the phrase “my boy” in Direct Messages. Most of them opined that this phrase was used by Weaver in a way to “groom” them.

“Grooming,” as explained by sex therapist and author Eric Marlowe Garrison, “is the slow, methodical, and intentional process of manipulating a person to a point where they can be victimized.” Garrison told Allure Magazine in 2017 that grooming can occur at any age and often starts with a friendship before the groomer offers favors to build trust.
Weaver is not accused of any criminal wrongdoing nor is he accused of non-consensual physical acts.

The Lincoln Project and Weaver did not respond to requests for comment. The Lincoln Project hosted a dedicated page for Weaver as of January 10th, describing him as “a political consultant with years of experience…[who] has served as chief strategist to scores of Governors and U.S. Senators,” but the page has since been deleted. Similarly, an email asking for comment from former Ohio Governor John Kasich went unanswered.

After the publication of this article, Weaver issued statements to Axios apologizing for his conduct and saying that he is no longer with the Lincoln Project. “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 said.

The man who received an unsolicited picture of Weaver’s penis pushed back on his claim that it was consensual. “I didn’t ask for it nor reciprocate, so there was no consent.”
While I am taking full responsibility for the inappropriate messages and conversations,” Weaver wrote, “I want to state clearly that the other smears being leveled at me … are categorically false and outrageous.” It is unclear to which “smears” Weaver referred. Forensic News reached out to Weaver and the Lincoln Project numerous times via Twitter and email and has not received a response.


Many of those who experienced Weaver’s behavior were left with a feeling of shame and guilt after they engaged Weaver in a back-and-forth in sexual conversations. “I feel personally ashamed. I found it alluring at first because he’s powerful and I’m embarrassed.

Another man agreed, “the messages left a bad taste in my mouth and left me ashamed that I didn’t put my foot down.

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