Longtime Republican operative John Weaver is accused of sexually soliciting or sending otherwise provocative messages to at least 21 young men over the past five years. The GOP strategist, who worked on John McCain's 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns as well as John Kasich's 2016 run, allegedly sent suggestive messages to someone as young as 14, according to the New York Times, who spoke to all 21 accusers and reviewed messages Weaver allegedly sent them. Weaver also co-founded the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, which quickly issued a statement condemning the 61-year-old, the Washington Post and the Hill report. "John Weaver led a secret life that was built on a foundation of deception at every level. He is a predator, a liar, and an abuser. We extend our deepest sympathies to those who were targeted by his deplorable and predatory behavior." said the statement.
The Times notes that none of the men are alleging illegal conduct by Weaver, just predatory behavior; in only one case did a physical encounter take place, and it was consensual. In the case of the 14-year-old, Weaver allegedly asked questions about his body, then got more explicit after the boy turned 18. In many of the cases, Weaver allegedly suggested he could help the men get political work, and in the most explicit cases, he allegedly offered to help them professionally if they had sex with him. The allegations started making waves this month with articles in the American Conservative and Forensic News, plus an open letter on Twitter. Weaver, who has a wife and two children, in mid-January told Axios he would not return to the Lincoln Project after a months-long medical leave; he acknowledged sending "inappropriate" messages and apologized to anyone who felt "uncomfortable," saying he is actually gay and had struggled to reconcile that fact. (Read more John Weaver stories.)