Lenti attempted to absolve herself of any responsibility for the group’s troubles, which include allegations of self-dealing and failing to take action against project co-founder John Weaver amid sexual harassment allegations.
Amid the rapid growth, it was the core group of original founders, led by Mr. Schmidt, who wielded operational control. “I had zero decision-making power,” Sarah Lenti, a Republican political consultant who at one point served as the group’s executive director, said in an interview.
Ms. Lenti, who has worked on four G.O.P. presidential campaigns in a variety of roles, added that she “was never privy to what founders were making.”
Lenti characterized her “decision-making power” much differently in an interview with Westword in November, claiming she was brought aboard specifically to help scale the fast-growing organization.
I was in the Whole Foods in Cherry Creek when Reed [Galen] called me, and he was like, “Are you ready for this?” And he told me about the Lincoln Project. I said yes immediately and came on as a consultant in February, and became the executive director in April. They needed operational help pulling together what became an organization with more than forty employees, over sixty interns, and ultimately raising $78 million. Scale it. Scale the sucker. [emphasis added]
If Lenti really had no influence or decision-making power as she now claims, allowing Westword to do an entire profile on her entitled “Sarah Lenti Played the Trump Card With the Lincoln Project” certainly seems like an odd choice.
Lenti’s relationship with co-founder Reed Galen was apparently so close she was one of the select few to be invited by the group’s leadership to work together in Utah amid the final stretch last fall.
Then Reed and Steve, who both live in Utah, and the other founders thought it would be good to have a small cohort go to Utah and work together for the final push the last two months of the campaign. So we quarantined, got COVID tests, and started working together. The concept was: If we’re effective remotely, how much more effective could we be if we’re together?
Galen and other Lincoln Project leaders directed a whopping $27 million of the group’s funds to his consulting firm.
Bragging about her close ties to Galen hardly seems to comport with the idea that she was simply a powerless executive director with no influence or authority.
Perhaps Lenti intentionally inflated her role in the Westword interview. Or, she might have just lied to the New York Times.
Lenti’s motivation to recast her role within the group is likely connected to a damning timeline she provided the Times of when she and other project leaders became aware of Weaver’s inappropriate conduct.
Ms. Lenti said she was told last March, when she was executive director, that Mr. Weaver “had a history of flirting with gentlemen over Twitter in an inappropriate fashion.”
Despite learning of allegations against Weaver in March, Lenti confirmed no review was conducted until that June.
Lenti told the Times the review conducted by the organization’s attorneys was “limited in scope” and resulted in no further action.
At least one alleged victim claimed Lenti “brushed off” concerns about Weaver’s predatory behavior when it was brought to her attention in September.
The fact this alleged victim contacted Lenti directly certainly suggests the individual perceived her as someone in a position of authority within the group, and undermines Lenti’s claims to the contrary.
While the allegations against Weaver were widely known by the rest of the group’s leadership by last November, the group did nothing until stories of Weaver’s history of sexual harassment surfaced earlier this year.
Lenti’s attempted cleanup in the Times may be connected to a new project in Colorado.
LIFT (Leaders Innovating for Tomorrow) Colorado was established in 2018 and bills itself as a “nonpartisan organization working to protect and augment Colorado’s economic vitality by educating and elevating a new generation of pro-business leaders, who are committed to promoting common-sense public policy solutions.”
LIFT provides trainings and other resources to prospective like-minded candidates interested in running for office.
While the group professes to be nonpartisan, LIFT’s leadership includes former Denver elections division head Amber McReynolds.
McReynolds was recently appointed by President Biden to the serve on the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors.
Peak Politics obtained a follow-up email from a recent LIFT web forum in February that instructed attendees to reach out to Lenti for questions.
LIFT’s email with Lenti listed as a point of contact was sent just one day after investigative journalist Ryan Girdusky tweeted the allegation that Lenti brushed off concerns about Weaver.
One young man claimed he reached out to @madrid_mike and @keithedwards about Weaver and they never responded to his accusations. He said he also spoke to @SarahMLenti and admitted to knowing and brushed it off pic.twitter.com/gEGjcBF63h
— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) January 31, 2021
More broadly, it’s hard to imagine any candidate in their right mind would feel comfortable taking instruction from an individual who’s been accused of failing to take action against a sexual predator.