Sa’ar reviews ties with Lincoln Project amid sexual harassment scandal

New Hope says it only engaged with 4 consultants, and further cooperation is under review; co-founder of political action organization faces misconduct allegations

Gideon Sa'ar, head of the New Hope political party, seen during an election campaign tour in Ra'anana, February 8, 2021. (Flash90)
Gideon Sa'ar, head of the New Hope political party, seen during an election campaign tour in Ra'anana, February 8, 2021. (Flash90)

A leading challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the elections next month said Tuesday that he was reviewing his ties with the founders of the Lincoln Project, a Republican group that opposed former US president Donald Trump and whose leadership has been engulfed in a sexual harassment scandal.

The New Hope party, headed by Netanyahu’s former Likud party rival Gideon Sa’ar, hired several consultants from the Lincoln Project in January as campaign advisers in the upcoming parliamentary election.

Last week, revelations surfaced that the Lincoln Project knew about allegations of sexual harassment involving John Weaver, one of its co-founders, several months before acknowledging them publicly.

New Hope said that it had never worked directly with the Lincoln Project or Weaver, but rather had engaged four consultants from the organization: co-founders Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, Stuart Stevens, and Reed Galen. Schmidt resigned from the Lincoln Project last week.

New Hope leader Gideon Saar talks to a reporter during a visit to an outdoor shopping center in Ra’anana on February 8, 2021. (GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

“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,” the party said.

The Lincoln Project’s stated mission is to hold public leaders “accountable.”

New Hope, a nationalist party Sa’ar founded, is made up mostly of former Netanyahu allies who seeks to unseat the longtime prime minister in the March 23 vote, Israel’s fourth parliamentary election in two years.

Sa’ar entered politics in 1999 as cabinet secretary during Netanyahu’s first term. He held key senior cabinet posts after Netanyahu returned to power in 2009.

Recent public opinion polls give Sa’ar a projected 13 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, enough to pose an obstacle to Netanyahu’s formation of a stable governing coalition.

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