Prime ministerial hopeful Gideon Sa’ar will no longer work with his American advisers who are being accused of covering up a sexual harassment scandal involving the Lincoln Project’s co-founder and pocketing millions raised by their political action committee, a Sa’ar spokesman told The Jerusalem Post exclusively on Tuesday morning.
Last month, Sa’ar hired Steve Schmidt, Stuart Stevens, Rick Wilson and Reed Galen of the Lincoln Project, which was formed in late 2019 by Republicans and former Republicans who aimed to prevent US President Donald Trump’s reelection and to defeat all pro-Trump Republicans in close races running for reelection in the Senate.
There had been speculation at the time that the Lincoln Project’s advisers would help Sa’ar defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with negative ads as they did with Trump. But the spokesman downplayed what the advisers had done for Sa’ar’s campaign.
“We have never worked with the Lincoln Project. The party engaged four senior consultants who were connected with the project. The individual in question is not known to us, we have never had any contact with him and certainly have not worked with him.
“In any event, due to financial considerations, the contract with the consultants is under review, and in the coming days, we will examine the possibility of further cooperation.”
A campaign official of a rival party expressed disappointment that Sa’ar would cease to receive advice from the advisers. The campaign official noted that Sa’ar has been falling in the polls consistently since he hired them.
Schmidt quit his role at the Lincoln Project after it was revealed that co-founder John Weaver has been accused by more than 20 young men of sexual harassment.
The Associated Press and other outlets reported that of some $90 million raised by the PAC, more than $50m. ended up going to firms controlled by the Lincoln Project’s founders.
A senior Likud campaign source declined to comment, only saying: “We don’t spend time thinking about Gideon. Gideon and [Yamina leader Naftali] Bennett can only form a government that will make [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid the prime minister, so their supporters are quickly coming to Likud for a real right-wing government.”
But Netanyahu’s son Yair retweeted articles about the Lincoln Project three times over the last few days.
“Can someone tell Gideon Sa’ar?” he wrote while retweeting a Fox News article that said the Lincoln Project’s leaders were made aware of at least 10 sexual-harassment claims against Weaver last June, including by two Lincoln Project employees. The article said the PAC’s leaders who now work for Sa’ar ignored the harassment allegations.
Yair Netanyahu also retweeted Yisrael Hayom columnist Caroline Glick, who wrote: “The Lincoln Project is finished in the US after it was found that its heads hid the pedophilia of one of their partners. But not to worry. It is rising in Israel, thanks to Gideon Sa’ar.”
Sa’ar is expected to directly address the Lincoln Project scandal for the first time on Tuesday in a VIP briefing in English to the Tel Aviv International Salon, which is co-sponsored by the Post. He will be interviewed at the online event by Post diplomatic correspondent Lahav Harkov.
After weeks of focusing his attacks on Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, Sa’ar shifted to Netanyahu in an Army Radio interview on Tuesday morning.
“More than 5000 victims of the coronavirus are just blah, blah, blah for him,” Sa’ar said. “The fact that children have been stuck at home is just background noise for him.”