Lincoln Project's Political Director Presided Over Katie Hill's Ethically Challenged Campaign

Screenshot, YouTube

Project Lincoln Political Director Zack Czajkowski. Credit: Screenshot, YouTube

 
Over at the Lincoln Project, they’ve got a tough job. Founded by a band of people who, for the most part, are failed consultants looking for their next grift and coming up empty, they started out with a narrow audience: Evan McMullin 2016 voters with a superiority complex. In order to attract the funding required to bankroll their own lifestyles and their Spite PAC™ projects, the audience needed to grow dramatically.

To make any type of inroads with Bernie Bros, Millennials, and Gen Z, the Lincoln Project knew they had to have some younger, hipper, more creative talent on board. While Rick Wilson’s elitist hardy-har-har humor might go over well with Brian Stelter, neither George Conway nor Mike Madrid have ever engaged an audience, virtually or in person.

(Listen to Madrid prattle on about “principles” and butcher Ronald Reagan’s immigration policy.)

So, the intrepid crew running the S.S. Lincoln Project had the bright idea to hire a veteran of “The Most Millennial Campaign Ever,” Zack Czajkowski, whose last gig was working with the “Draft Beto” movement but whose claim to fame was his work as campaign manager for former Rep. Katie Hill’s 2018 campaign.

Hiring someone with proven success in the type of race you’re working on isn’t a bad tactic. It’s a little strange for a supposedly ultra-conservative group to hire a dedicated liberal, but it just shows where the Lincoln Project’s really heading.

Czajkowski has much in common with his Lincoln Project co-workers, including claiming to be run by “principles” while their professional and personal lives show anything but. In Czajkowski’s case, this means running campaigns in which staffers use unethical or perhaps illegal methods to harm the competition, and publicly vowing to protect women and then looking the other way as they’re abused/harassed/exploited.

The folks at the Lincoln Project should have known this about Czajkowski before hiring him; for the most part, it was all over the news.

Long before news of Hill’s inappropriate/illegal relationship with a campaign staffer broke last fall, leading to her resignation, the general tone of the campaign was known by locals and by anyone watching the Vice documentary of the campaign. (The woman with whom Hill had a relationship will be referred to by as Jane Doe or J.D. in this piece.)

A representative incident takes place during Episode 1 of “She’s Running” when a group including Czajkowski, Hill, Kelly, J.D., and fundraising consultant Kelsey O’Hara were burning the midnight oil to meet a fundraising deadline. Hill explained to the camera:

“We’re all doing like booty call texts. Well, Kelsey is. She’s texting all of her ex-hookups. You have 28 minutes. It’s probably longer than most of the times you slept with them.”

O’Hara didn’t look like she appreciated the comment, giving an eye-roll. Czajkowski loudly replied, “Katie!” as if he were scolding her, but the look on his face told a different story.

Screenshot, YouTube

In what workplace is it okay for the boss to be making those kinds of comments – either during the workday or while hanging out with the team?

Even worse than ignoring the impropriety of a boss’s comments about a subordinate’s sex life is ignoring the fact that the boss was involved in an exploitative sexual relationship with one of her direct reports – and Czajkowski did that, too.

According to numerous text messages reviewed by RedState, Czajkowski was fully aware that Katie Hill was involved in an illegal* and unethical throuple relationship with her husband and with J.D., who was an employee directly reporting to both him and Hill, from the time the relationship started in the fall of 2017 through the time it ended in June 2019. Yet, he said nothing.

Zack Czajkowski, Katie Hill, and J.D. attend Pride 2018. Screenshot, Katie Hill for Congress Instagram

It’s unclear whether J.D. was already in the throuple relationship with Hill and Kenny Heslep when she became Hill’s “body person” in November 2017, or whether Hill used the job offer in order to spend more one-on-one time with J.D. and the relationship started after she was hired. If there was already a sexual relationship, Czajkowski shouldn’t have okayed the hire. If not, Czajkowski had a duty to protect J.D. from being exploited by the candidate.

Interestingly, when Hill’s campaign ended, Czajkowski declined to go to work for Hill on Capitol Hill and also made it publicly known he would not be working on her re-election campaign. Perhaps his knowledge of the throuple relationship was the reason for that?

In any event, Czakowski moved on to the “Draft Beto” campaign and a county supervisor campaign in Santa Barbara, but text messages reviewed by RedState reveal that he and J.D. still spoke frequently through at least August 2019. In one, J.D. said of Czajkowski, “We started talking a lot after the break up. He’s one of the only people I can talk to about this stuff,” that he gave her advice on how to move forward after the breakup, and in August 2019 they were talking for “an hour a day.”

That’s all well and good, and a nice, friendly thing to do, but his concern came a few years too late. And it’s certainly not in line with how the Lincoln Project claims they want women and girls to be treated and celebrated.

The malfeasance within the Hill campaign wasn’t only sexual. O’Hara’s husband was arrested in February 2020 for hacking into the websites of Hill’s primary opponents, causing DDoS attacks in the leadup to the hotly-contested primary:

Caforio, who was supported by the progressive group Justice Democrats, and another primary contender, Jess Phoenix, both had their websites hacked leading up to the election, but Hill did not. The FBI launched a probe shortly after her election in 2018.

The criminal affidavit states that Caforio’s website was targeted by four distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks between April 2018 and May 2018, forcing it offline for a total of 21 hours. One of the attacks happened shortly before a live primary debate, forcing it offline throughout the debate, the complaint stated. The final attack happened about a week before the primary election.

The hacks were known about locally at the time, and nationally even before the 2018 general election.

Federal officials stated at that time that they’d found no evidence linking Hill or O’Hara to the hacking, and O’Hara denied knowing that her husband was responsible. But given that their campaign was the only one NOT being hacked in that time frame, wouldn’t it be responsible for the campaign manager to be suspicious that someone sympathetic to the campaign and possibly linked to the campaign was responsible for it and do some type of investigation?

The answer to that is, yes, for those wondering. Clearly, it wasn’t the duty of Hill’s campaign to mount a full legal investigation, but any campaign manager worth their salt would want to ensure that no one was going rogue and doing things that could tank the campaign – and would want to get rid of any employee or volunteer who would do such a thing. Because, principles.

Yes, principles. Principles and values and protecting women are all things the Lincoln Project claims to be founded on, yet are things it seems their political director couldn’t care less about. Did Zack Czajkowski bring his same high standards to the Lincoln Project? Time will tell.

(*In the wake of the scandal that resulted in Hill resigning from Congress, many apologists claimed that her relationship with J.D., who was an employee of the campaign and not a Congressional employee, wasn’t illegal. California’s sexual harassment laws are the broadest in the country, even protecting contractors, paid or unpaid interns, and volunteers, and covering conduct outside the “workplace”. Even Hill’s comments to Kelsey O’Hara about her “booty calls” could be actionable, since California law doesn’t require the harassment to be motivated by sexual desire.)