Political Leanings: Republican/Anti-President Trump
2018 Spending: N/A
Established in late 2019, the Lincoln Project is a conservative super PAC that aims to “defeat President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box” in 2020. According to the founders of the Lincoln Project, the 16th president is the super PAC’s namesake because President Abraham Lincoln “understood the necessity of not just saving the Union, but also of knitting the nation back together spiritually as well as politically.”
The Lincoln Project’s advisory board consists of many prominent political strategists and former staff members of Republican presidents and presidential candidates.
Board members include John Weaver, who worked on the presidential campaigns of President George H.W. Bush, Sen. John McCain and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Steve Schmidt, who worked on the presidential campaigns of McCain and President George W. Bush, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s successful 2006 campaign for governor of California. Other members include former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party Jennifer Horn, former Republican marketing strategist and political consultant Ron Steslow, and lawyer George Conway, a notorious Trump critic who is the husband of Kellyanne Conway, the current White House counselor to the president.
As a super PAC, the group can accept unlimited contributions, but it must disclose its donors and cannot coordinate with campaigns on its independent expenditures.
As of June 30, the Lincoln Project had raised $19.4 million and, as of July 31, it had spent roughly $7 million on independent expenditures. The majority of the super PAC’s spending has been on advertisements campaigning against the reelection of Trump. Some of the ads recently launched by the group have targeted the president’s response to protests for racial justice, the coronavirus pandemic, his foreign policy decisions regarding China and his position on the Confederate flag.
On July 22, the super PAC released its first ad endorsing a Senate candidate: Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who is running to unseat Republican Sen. Steve Daines.
When asked whether the group is concerned about driving away Republican and independent voters by endorsing other Democrats, Lincoln Project co-founder Reed Galen responded: “I don’t think so. If there’s a candidate that we believe like a Joe Biden or, in this case, a Steve Bullock, who is an absolutely worthy replacement for the current incumbent, then, you know, we believe that the folks who believe as we do, that you’ve got to take Trump and Trumpism out of the system.”
The Lincoln Project’s viral ad “Mourning in America,” which describes America’s economic suffering amid the coronavirus pandemic, received publicity after eliciting a thread of angry tweets from the president. When a reporter asked about his Twitter response at a May 5 press conference, Trump said: “They should not call it the Lincoln Project. It’s not fair to Abraham Lincoln, a great President. They should call it the ‘Losers Project.’”
Within a few days of the ad’s release, the super PAC said it received around $2 million from 25,000 new donors.
So far, the Lincoln Project’s largest individual donors are hedge fund manager Stephen F. Mandel Jr., who donated $1 million, and Kerelis Arturas, the founder of FSATC — an air traffic control flight simulation network — who donated $250,000. DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen, Bain Capital co-chairman Joshua Bekenstein, Wolverine Gas & Oil Corp. CEO Sidney Jansma Jr., and Continental Cablevision co-founder Amos Hostetter have each donated $100,000.