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In fact, the organization hardly came up at all, only getting one mention in two days – from Setmayer herself – according to a transcript search.
The Lincoln Project, the group of disgruntled former Republicans known for its vitriolic advertising and bombastic social media presence, was beset by a series of humiliating scandals in 2021, starting with the revelations that co-founder John Weaver had sexually harassed young, gay men online for years. Multiple reports then emerged that his fellow founders and high-level staffers were aware of the allegations against him months before they claimed.
A former Republican who now openly supports Democrats, Setmayer has served as an adviser for the Lincoln Project since 2020. Yet she was introduced as a “conservative commentator” and “former GOP communications director” on Monday and Tuesday on the ABC talk show. She last worked in Congress in 2013 for pro-Russian Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., before going into full-time punditry. Her Lincoln Project bio page doesn’t mention Rohrabacher, instead referring to him as a “Republican Representative.”
Viewers wouldn’t have known about Setmayer’s association with the group at all, save for one mention of it by Setmayer herself on Tuesday. Setmayer boasted her group had tried to make Republican criticism of critical race theory in the Virginia governor’s race the equivalent of uttering a racial slur. It put out ads condemning Republican Glenn Youngkin as a closet racist for criticizing the curriculum that’s begun permeating American schools about the effects of systemic racism in institutions.
“We at the Lincoln Project pointed that out in the Virginia race, that critical race theory is the new ‘n word’ for Republicans and the southern strategy in 2021,” Setmayer said. “The Democrats have to have a good comeback to this or they will lose in 2022.”
That strategy appeared to backfire however, as Republicans won the governorship and other statewide races in Virginia for the first time since 2009, with parental concerns about left-wing agendas in education one of the key issues in the campaign.
That wasn’t the worst moment for the Lincoln Project out of the Virginia race.
Last month, it found itself making bad headlines again, this time for orchestrating a poorly received stunt in the governor’s race meant to associate Youngkin supporters with White supremacists.
The Lincoln Project sent five people to pose with tiki torches outside Youngkin’s campaign bus in Charlottesville and declare themselves his supporters, in an attempt to evoke memories of the infamous far-right “Unite The Right” rally in 2017. While the images were initially spread around by Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s campaign, McAuliffe’s team eventually denounced the smear attempt. Even Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt derided his organization for the move, calling it “recklessly stupid.
It was the latest embarrassment for the group that was a CNN and MSNBC darling in 2020 for its stance against Donald Trump and Republicans. Following the Weaver scandal, a flood of reports then followed on accusations of financial mismanagement and funneling of liberal donor money – the group raked in $90 million in 2020 and had visions of a full-fledged media empire – to co-founders’ firms. After the group tweeted out private messages exchanged between co-founder Jennifer Horn and a reporter investigating its various issues, several key figures called for it to disband.
Setmayer largely hit audience-friendly talking points during her appearances on “The View.” On Tuesday, she called Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager on trial for killings during unrest in Kenosha, Wisc., last year, a “murderer.”
Whoopi Goldberg also introduced Setmayer as a conservative commentator and former GOP official, but referred to her both days as “Tara Stetmayer.”
ABC News and Setmayer didn’t return requests for comment.
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