Lincoln Project founders have ties to Russia, tax troubles, docs reveal
July 21, 2020 | 11:35am – New York Post
WASHINGTON — The founders of the Lincoln Project, a headline-grabbing anti-Trump political action committee formed by GOP operatives who describe the president as a “crook” and “huckster,” have their own checkered dealings with Russia and the tax man, documents obtained by The Post reveal.
Since its inception last November — announced with a blistering New York Times op-ed — the brainchild of George Conway, Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson and John Weaver has raked in more than $19.4 million, according to FEC filings, and has needled President Trump repeatedly with provocative TV ads.
But the group — which the National Review on Monday dubbed “The Grifter Project” and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) last week dismissed as a “cabal of political consultants all in it for the money” — don’t exactly practice what they preach.
Co-founder Weaver, a political consultant known for his work on John McCain’s and John Kasich’s presidential campaigns, registered as a Russian foreign agent for uranium conglomerate TENEX in a six-figure deal last year, filings with the Department of Justice show.
TENEX’s parent company is Rosatom, a Russian state-owned corporation that also owns Uranium One — the company that paid Bill Clinton $500,000 in speaking fees and millions to the Clinton Foundation after then-President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed off on the controversial merger in 2010.
Weaver backed out of the lobbying gig in May 2019 and called it “a mistake” in a tweet in which he denied having taken any money from TENEX.
Still, that hasn’t stopped him from ironically railing against Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and his “rogue ties to Putin backed thugs in Ukraine & elsewhere.”
According to IRS filings exclusively obtained by The Post, the Republican operative — who has also repeatedly called Trump a “tax fraud” and a “tax crook” on Twitter — also has an outstanding $313,655 federal tax lien against his Austin, Texas, home.
This March, an Austin shopping mall also filed a lawsuit against the children’s clothing store that Weaver and his wife own, according to court documents obtained by The Post, just months after Weaver mocked the president’s own string of failed businesses.
Weaver’s fellow Lincoln Project founder Wilson also has an interesting financial past. According to IRS documents, the GOP strategist has an outstanding $389,420 federal tax lien against his Tallahassee, Florida, home, and his bank moved to foreclose on the property in 2016.
Wilson, a best-selling author with 1 million Twitter followers, has never disclosed the money woes publicly, allowing him to sneer online about Trump’s decision never to release his own taxes — at one point calling him “Brokeahontas,” despite the fact that American Express had taken Wilson to court for his own unpaid $25,729 credit card bill the year before, documents show.
“It’s very clear that this isn’t about Trump and Republicans,” one GOP source told The Post. “It’s about making money to help pay off their massive personal debts.”
Voter records on the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s website also show veteran Republican strategist Schmidt, another Lincoln Project boss, hasn’t recently voted himself — with his home state listing him as an “inactive voter.”
An inactive voter is someone who has not voted in two general elections and has failed to respond to letters from the county clerk, according to Utah’s voter registration website.
Schmidt, a communications strategist who has worked with George W. Bush, McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger, disputed this account, telling The Post he voted by mail in 2016 and 2018 and registered as an Independent in 2018.
The devastating National Review piece dismissed the outfit as “little more than the most brazen election-season grift in recent memory” and a “ragtag band of three otherwise unemployed strategists plus one lawyer.”
The group has also drawn the ire of Republican lawmakers such as Cornyn after it began spending money targeting vulnerable GOP members, including Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who faces a tough re-election bid.
A spokesman for the Lincoln Project declined to comment. Conway, Wilson and Weaver did not immediately return calls for comment.
The Lincoln Project, named after Abraham Lincoln, has made a huge splash in the short time it has been in existence — a lot of that due to the fact that one of its creators, anti-Trump Republican George Conway, is married to White House adviser Kellyanne Conway.
Trump went off on the group in May, after it ran an attack ad faulting his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, referring to its members as “loser types.”
“Lincoln Project is a disgrace to Honest Abe,” Trump tweeted.
“I don’t know what Kellyanne did to her deranged loser of a husband, Moonface, but it must have been really bad,” the president continued.
“They’re all LOSERS, but Abe Lincoln, Republican, is all smiles!”