The embattled anti-Donald Trump group, the Lincoln Project, is facing questions over how it spent millions in donations, according to The Associated Press.
In a report published Thursday about a growing “crisis” within the group’s ranks, stemming from allegations that one of its founding members harassed Lincoln Project employees, The Associated Press indicates that the Lincoln Project directed millions of dollars meant to derail President Donald Trump’s re-election on work done by firms connected to members of the group’s hierarchy.
“Of the $90 million Lincoln Project has raised, more than $50 million has gone to firms controlled by the group’s leaders,” the AP reported.
“Since its creation, the Lincoln Project has raised $90 million,” the outlet continued. “But only about a third of the money, roughly $27 million, directly paid for advertisements that aired on broadcast and cable, or appeared online, during the 2020 campaign, according to an analysis of campaign finance disclosures and data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.”
“That leaves tens of millions of dollars that went toward expenses like production costs, overhead — and exorbitant consulting fees collected by members of the group,” the AP ultimately concluded. “The vast majority of the cash was split among consulting firms controlled by its founders, including about $27 million paid to a small firm controlled by [founder Reed] Galen and another $21 million paid to a boutique firm run by former Lincoln Project member Ron Steslow, campaign finance disclosures show.”
A campaign finance expert told the outlet that the spending raised “questions about where the rest of the money ultimately went” because typically, “a major super PAC” would “spend a majority or more of their money on advertisements and that’s not what happened here.”
The AP suggests that the Lincoln Project took swift action against John Weaver, the founder accused of making inappropriate contact with staffers, because it was concerned that fundraising could dry up. Indeed, now that Trump is out of office, the group’s purpose is not as clear; recent reports from Open Secrets indicate it was planning to pressure Republicans into voting to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial and then partner with another anti-Trump Republican organization to bolster Republicans that ultimately voted against Trump in the Senate.
The Lincoln Project’s Steve Schmidt denies the two are connected, though he told the AP he would not open its books, deflecting blame back on Trump and prominent members of the former president’s campaign and family.
“We fully comply with the law,” Schmidt told the outlet. “The Lincoln Project will be delighted to open its books for audit immediately after the Trump campaign and all affiliated super PACs do so, explaining the cash flow of the nearly $700 million that flowed through their organizations controlled by Brad Parscale and Jared Kushner.”
Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson went a step further, calling the Associated Press’s Thursday report a “hit story” commissioned by “Trump world,” on Twitter, per Fox News.
Thursday’s AP expose, though, is not the first deep dive into the Lincoln Project’s finances. Progressive outlet Jacobin, no fan of President Donald Trump, suggested that the money leftists spent bankrolling the Lincoln Project might have been better used to organize.