Never Trump Lincoln Project Devoted 89 Percent of Disbursements to ‘Operating Expenditures’

Matt Winkelmeyer, Chip Somodevilla, Brad Barket/Getty Images

The Lincoln Project, led by outspoken Never Trump personalities like Rick Wilson and George Conway, devoted over 89 percent of its disbursements to “operating expenditures,” according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The FEC data, covering the period from November 5, 2019, to March 31, 2020, showed the Never Trump super PAC — which describes its primary mission as defeating both “President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box” — reporting $2,587,886.64 in total contributions and $1,384,428.21 in total disbursements. According to the data, the super PAC reported $1,236,036.35 in “operating expenditures,” accounting for 89.3 percent of total disbursements in that period. Independent expenditures accounted for the remaining $148,131.86:

According to the FEC, the Lincoln Project, at the end of that timeframe, reported $1,203,458.43 cash on hand.

Cofounder Rick Wilson is no stranger to controversy or financial issues. He launched the Lincoln Project as those issues continued to pile up, as Breitbart News has extensively detailed:

Records demonstrate that as Trump was taking off as a political force, Wilson’s personal financial situation turned dour. The bank was moving in on his house, credit card companies were suing him over debt accrued, and the IRS filed various liens against him for almost $400,000 for back taxes in February 2014. As that happened, Wilson’s political style changed to become anti-Trump instead of continuing with his decades-long history of inflammatory right-wing politics.

Wilson’s The Lincoln Project, a group of Never Trump political consultants running targeted ads attacking Trump this year, has been touting an ad bashing the Confederate flag as a symbol of “treason” against the United States.

Controversies have only continued to bubble up. Wilson recently made waves after attempting to “cancel” Domino’s Pizza for responding kindly to a compliment from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, which she issued over seven years ago. The attack quickly morphed into an accidental self-own for Wilson, as social media users uncovered old photos posted by his wife, Molly, depicting what appeared to be Wilson’s cooler emblazoned with the Confederate flag, which the Lincoln Project described as “a symbol of a treasonous, and failed uprising against the United States.” The top of their cooler reads, “The South will rise again”:

Breitbart News detailed Wilson’s rise to fame as a prominent Never Trumper. He established his voice as an outspoken Trump opponent after years of working in the web of politics. He worked as the Florida field director for George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign, served as a policy adviser for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and established his own consulting firm called Intrepid Media, which “between the start of 2009 and the end of 2012 … failed to line up major political candidates as clientele, despite big GOP victories across the board in 2010,” leading to financial strain.

As Breitbart News reported:

In fact, FEC records show that Intrepid’s biggest client between those four years was not a presidential campaign, but rather Adam Hasner, a local Florida elected official who made an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2012. In total, Hasner paid Intrepid more than $29,000 throughout that election cycle.

The situation hardly improved in the years following. In 2014, another stellar year for Republicans nationwide as the GOP retook the U.S. Senate that year, Intrepid was only paid a total of $34,280 by four federal groups and candidates.

Wilson’s sparse income through the company could help explain tax issues that came to a head for him that year. In February 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filed a lien against Wilson and his wife for more than $389,000 in unpaid income taxes dating back to 2004.

As his financial woes increased, Wilson began penning editorials and articles — the same year Trump announced his candidacy. He effectively established himself as a primary Trump critic and eventually “made his debut as presidential campaign strategist for Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative running as a vocal Never Trumper”:

Even as McMullin’s time in the spotlight was fading, Wilson’s national profile was just forming. Following the election, the strategist stepped up his Never Trump criticism, garnering not only bylines in some of the country’s most reputable media outlets, but also appearing frequently on network television.

His notoriety as a Trump opponent even helped land a gig as an editor at large at the Daily Beast despite little background in conventional journalism and two book deals. The first book, titled Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever, was a New York Times bestseller when it debuted in August 2018.

Similarly, Wilson’s position as Never Trumper seemed to translate into a benefit for his media company. Between 2017 and 2018, Intrepid was paid more than $116,000 by Kurt Jetta, a Trump critic who was vying for the Republican nomination for Florida’s 21st Congressional District. Jetta eventually dropped his bid after failing to make headway with the local GOP grassroots.

The revelation of the Never Trump super PAC’s exorbitant operating expenditures comes as the Lincoln Project, which recently endorsed Montana Democrat Gov. Steve Bullock over incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Daines, continues in its wide-scale efforts to trounce Trump in the 2020 election. Last month, the Lincoln Project released an ad attempting to cast the president as “not well” and in decline. Weeks later, Twitter flagged the group for spreading “manipulated media” due to its presentation of President Trump’s July 4 speech, creating the false impression that the president linked Operation Desert Storm to Vietnam:

The flag did not appear to phase Wilson and his Never Trump allies as they continue to target the president, accusing the first family of selling out America and continuing in promoting their desired narrative that Trump is “not well”:

The Lincoln Project’s political controversies, however, are continuing to pile up. The super PAC ousted its own video editor this week over old tweets, including one reading, “I want to be a feminist but every time I call someone a [c—] I get yelled at,” as Breitbart News’s John Nolte detailed.

It was also revealed this week that Lincoln Project cofounder John Weaver registered as a foreign agent of Russia as recently as last year:

Last week, the Lincoln Project released an ad titled “Fellow Traveler.” The ad, all in Russian, states that “Comrade Trump” has secured the endorsement of Vladimir Putin “again.”


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