In a lengthy resignation letter posted on Friday evening, Schmidt took credit for the group’s “decisive role” in President Donald Trump’s 2020 electoral defeat and said he was leaving because the organization’s board is made up of “four middle-aged white men” and needs a female member for the sake of diversity and professionalism, among other things.
Schmidt’s resignation was made public half an hour after Axios reported it was forthcoming. The outlet said three other members have resigned – spokesman Kurt Bardella, video host Nayyera Haq and columnist Tom Nichols, who was their unpaid advisor.
Another co-founder, Jennifer Horn, left the group only to see her private messages with a reporter leaked online on Thursday. While Twitter refused to punish Project Lincoln for the clear violation of their rules, the group hastily deleted the messages and ran damage control.
The exodus comes after a torrent of scandalous revelations, starting with last month’s expose of another Lincoln Project co-founder John Weaver as someone who sexually preyed on boys for decades.
While the group angrily pushed back on the reports and claimed total ignorance of Weaver’s proclivities, on Monday the AP published an investigation strongly suggesting otherwise.
In his resignation letter, Schmidt maintained that the first time he learned about Weaver’s misconduct – grooming and sexual abuse of boys – was last month when it was revealed, and had “never heard a single person ever whisper” he was a predator when they worked for Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) during his 2008 presidential bid.
Along with Weaver, Rick Wilson and George Conway, Schmidt was the most prominent member of Project Lincoln, milking their status as establishment Republican strategists and campaign aides to McCain, President George W. Bush or California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for appearances on CNN and MSNBC where they campaigned against Trump and Republicans who supported him.
In the letter, Schmidt wrote that he had been “consumed by anger and rage” over the “attacks from the rancid collection of liars, thugs and fascists” such as Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News host Laura Ingraham on his character and the Lincoln Project.
He also claimed that the Project was the “most successful and politically lethal super PAC” in US history that played a “decisive role” in Trump’s defeat, and urged people who agreed to him to continue fighting as the US remains “one election away from seeing the end of American democracy.”
According to the AP expose, however, only $27 million of the $90 million raised by the group was spent on political advertising – often in reliably Democrat strongholds – while the rest actually found its way to consulting firms run by members as payments for “services” rendered.
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