Mr. Weaver, 61, is a longtime Republican presidential campaign adviser who gained prominence during John McCain’s run in 2008 and also worked for John Kasich in 2016. The Times reported last month, based on interviews with 21 young men, that Mr. Weaver had for years sent unsolicited and sexually provocative messages online. The youngest person The Times interviewed was 14 when Mr. Weaver first contacted him; the messages became overtly sexual after he turned 18.
On Thursday, The Associated Press and New York magazine, citing unidentified former employees, reported that Lincoln Project leaders knew about Mr. Weaver’s behavior last summer, which Mr. Schmidt has continued to deny. Mr. Weaver took a medical leave from the group in August and announced last month that he would not return.
In its statement on Thursday night, the Lincoln Project said that Mr. Weaver had “betrayed all of us” and called accounts of his harassment of young men “heartbreaking.” It said that Mr. Weaver’s conduct “must be reckoned with,” and said it was bringing in “a best-in-class outside professional” to “establish both accountability and best practices going forward for The Lincoln Project.”
The former employees, in their letter, expressed anger that Lincoln Project leaders had characterized reports about the group’s handling of Mr. Weaver’s behavior as hit jobs from supporters of former President Donald J. Trump.
Insinuating that their efforts constituted a right-wing attack, they wrote, “is not in keeping with the values we signed up to uphold, and resembles the tactics and behavior we joined the Lincoln Project to defeat.”
Over the last year, the Lincoln Project established itself as the leading Republican group opposed to Mr. Trump, skewering him with mocking ads and drawing a large following on the left. But since the election, the group has been splintering. Two former board members, Ron Steslow and Mike Madrid, left in December. George T. Conway III, another key figure in the organization, has also departed.
Ms. Horn said in her statement, “When The New York Times report on Weaver came out recently, I started getting phone calls from some victims who shared very disturbing stories about their interactions with him — interactions that apparently started nearly a year ago and, according to these young men, were communicated to others in the Lincoln Project.”