‘Never Trumper’ Super PAC Founded by George Conway Spending Majority of Money on Affiliated Consultants

George T. Conway III, husband of White House Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway,
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The majority of the money spent in the first four months of operations by The Lincoln Project, a Super PAC founded by George Conway and other “Never Trumpers,” has been paid to consultants affiliated with the project.

From its inception in November 2019 until February 21, 2020, The Lincoln Project has reported $180,624 in expenditures, according to its Federal Election Commission filings. At least $135,274 of these expenditures were paid to firms owned or affiliated with individuals listed as advisers to the group, or directly to the advisers themselves.

CNBC reported the details of the group’s public launch in December:

A super PAC led by a group of “Never Trump” conservatives has raised over $400,000 since it launched Tuesday.

The committee, known as the Lincoln Project, raised the sum from over 5,000 individual donors, with an average contribution of of $77, according to the group’s treasurer, Reed Galen. The top donation was for $10,000.

“We are truly honored by the outpouring of grassroots financial support that The Lincoln Project has received in just its first two days. It is a testament to the untapped reservoir of Americans – Republicans, Democrats and Independents – who believe our country deserves better than the leadership we have today,” Galen said. “We will work as hard as we can to ensure that next November, Donald Trump is a one-term president.”

Galen noted that the organization had a strong day of fundraising Wednesday while President Donald Trump was being impeached in the House of Representatives.

The PAC’s list of advisors include several conservative critics of Republican Trump, including Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George Conway, as well as two former strategists for the late Sen. John McCain, Steve Schmidt and John Weaver.

According to its website, the mission of The Lincoln Project is to “Defeat President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box.”

We do not undertake this task lightly nor from ideological preference. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain. However, the priority for all patriotic Americans must be a shared fidelity to the Constitution and a commitment to defeat those candidates who have abandoned their constitutional oaths, regardless of party.

Electing Democrats who support the Constitution over Republicans who do not is a worthy effort [emphasis added].

The group’s “advisors” are a Rogues’ Gallery of “Never Trumper” Republican consultants who have thrown their lot in with far-left Democrats since the election of President Trump in November 2016:

  • George Conway is a lawyer in New York City and a founding member of Checks & Balances, a group of conservative and libertarian lawyers organized to defend the rule of law.
  • Reed Galen is an independent political strategist. He left the Republican Party in 2016 and has spent the last three years dedicated to the political reform movement, creating a better system for all voters.
  • Jennifer Horn is a communications strategist and former Chairman of the NH Republican Party. She was the first Republican woman in New Hampshire nominated for Federal office.
  • Mike Madrid is a Republican strategist and former political director of the California Republican Party. He serves as a senior advisor to the California Latino Economic Institute.
  • Steve Schmidt is a national political strategist. He previously worked for President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Ron Steslow is a brand and marketing strategist and independent political consultant. Since leaving the GOP in 2016, he has worked to put voters first in our political system.
  • John Weaver is a national political strategist. He worked for President George H.W. Bush, Senator John McCain and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
  • Rick Wilson is a long time Republican media consultant and author of the New York Times bestselling book, Everything Trump Touches Dies.

According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, the Lincoln Project raised $685,000 from its organization in November 2019 until December 31, 2019, and $327,000 of these funds were itemized (over $200) while $357,000 were unitemized.

Andrew Greenleaf of Minneapolis, Minnesota, who contributed $25,000, was the contributor who made the largest donation.

Other donors who gave $5,000 or more included:

    • John Harris, retired, of Incline Village, NV, who donated $12,000
  • David Carlsen, chairman of UMI Company, of Minneapolis, MN, who donated $10,000
  • Jeff Westphal, chairman of Vertex, Inc., a resident of Newtown Square, PA donated $5,000

Almost the entirety of the $100,350 spent by The Lincoln Project during that time went to consultants affiliated with the project.

A total of $50,000 was paid to Tusk Digital, a consulting firm for digital advertising and digital services. According to its website, Ron Steslow, an adviser to The Lincoln Project, is president of Tusk Digital, which is based in Washington, DC.

In 2016, Tusk Digital was the primary vendor paid by a predecessor of The Lincoln Project, The Never Trump PAC.

Another adviser to The Lincoln Project, Jennifer Horn, was paid $5,000 for “political strategy services.”

  • $29,710 was paid to Anedot.com, a Texas-based firm for “merchant fees.”
  • $5,000 was paid to Capitol Compliance, a Washington, DC, consulting firm, for “compliance services.”
  • $8,000 was paid to Katz Watson Group, a Washington, DC, consulting firm for “fundraising consulting services.”
  • $2,500 was paid to James Lynch Communications, a New Jersey-based consulting firm run by James Lynch, a former John McCain staffer and adviser to Starbucks founder Howard Schultz’s ill-fated 2020 presidential campaign, for “communications services.”

In addition, $8,000 was paid to Katz Watson Group, a D.C. consulting firm for “fundraising consulting services.” The founder of the company, Fran Katz Watson has been a high profile fundraiser for Democrats since the 1990s:

Prior to founding The Katz Watson Group in 1999, she had served as the National Finance Director for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and in 2000, managed national fundraising for Senator Joe Lieberman’s run for Vice President.

Previously, Fran served in various political and fundraising positions for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and several Gubernatorial and US Senate races.

Between January 1, 2020, and February 21, 2020, The Lincoln Project has spent an additional $80,274 on independent expenditures, all of which was paid to companies owned or operated by two advisers affiliated with the project–Reed Galen and Ron Steslow–according to FEC records compiled by Rob Pyers of California Target Book:

  • Ron Steslow’s Tusk Digital was paid an additional $6,064, bringing the total payment it has received since the inception of The Lincoln Project to $56,064.
  • Summit Strategic Communications, LLC, a Utah-based company whose registered agent is Lincoln Project adviser Reed Galen, was paid $74,210 for digital production, newspaper advertising, and billboard advertising to produce ads opposing Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), and President Donald Trump

On Friday, the group published a YouTube video that attacks moderate Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) from a far-left Democrat perspective:


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