Nearly two dozen men have come forward to accuse Lincoln Project co-founder and longtime Republican Party operative John Weaver of sending unsolicited and sexually provocative messages to them, sometimes promising professional favors in return for sexual contact.
The 21 men who spoke with New York Times reporters Maggie Astor and Danny Hakim said that Weaver, who advised John McCain on both his 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns as well as John Kasich’s run in 2016, exploited his position in politics, an industry that many of them wanted to work in. Some of them felt that they had to keep responding to his messages, at least 10 of which contained overt sexual solicitations, or else risk losing their “in.”
“It just seemed like he was exploiting his power,” said Cody Bralts, whom Weaver messaged last year on Twitter after Bralts replied to a tweet of his. “He was someone very important and high up in a field I want to go into.”
A recent college grad looking to work in politics, Bralts mentioned that he ran marathons. “At least I know that whatever we end up doing, you could do it multiple times in a row,” Weaver replied, punctuating the direct message with a winking emoticon.
“I would try to veer the conversations toward politics, and he would always find a way to bring it back to sexual stuff,” said Kyle Allen, a 23-year-old whom Weaver contacted between 2016 and 2018.
At least one of the men was underage when Weaver first contacted him. Cole Trickle-Miele was a 14-year-old Kasich supporter when he followed the prominent GOP operative on Twitter. He received his first DM from Weaver not long after. Three years later, Weaver messaged him again, checking to see if he was “in [high school] still.” After Trickle-Miele had turned 18, Weaver explicitly solicited the young man: “I want to come to Vegas and take you to dinner and drinks and spoil you!”
In at least two instances, Weaver offered the men he solicited positions at the Lincoln Project, the Republican-led anti-Trump organization he co-founded.
“He said he was looking for young people who were creative and invested in this upcoming election,” said Allen. Weaver asked him to “post a thirst trap” then call him about the Lincoln Project openings. Allen never followed up, telling the Times that the exchange seemed “kind of sketchy.”
In a statement to the Times, Weaver, who has a wife and two kids, seems to be trying to garner sympathy for being in the closet while totally sidestepping the ways in which he abused his power to try and get what he wanted.
“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,” he said. “In living a deeply closeted life, 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.”