This story was co-published with The Washington Post.
A video editor who shaped the buzzy Lincoln Project ads needling President Trump is no longer affiliated with the Republican organization over a series of past tweets in which he used offensive slang for female anatomy to insult political rivals.
Ben Howe, who came of age politically making anti-Obama ads during the rise of the tea party, did not publicly tout his work for the super PAC formed by a group of high-level Republican operatives who have broken ranks with the party over Trump’s presidency until a recent interview with Vanity Fair. He was described in the article as “the creative mind, video editor, and, he said, sometimes narrating voice on many of the group’s ads.”
The 19th, a nonprofit news outlet, had emailed the Lincoln Project about a series of Twitter posts made by Howe in the years after Trump’s election that deployed female anatomy as an insult, calling rivals a “vagina” or “twat,” or in some instances using a more profane term.
“Based on these unacceptable and offensive posts, and those that came to light last week, Ben Howe is no longer affiliated with the Lincoln Project, effective immediately,” Keith Edwards, the group’s spokesman, said in a statement.
Last week, the Daily Dot resurfaced tweets from Howe that defended Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. They were published by Talking Points Memo shortly after they were made in 2014 and have since been deleted.
Howe said he had written “ill advised” and “inexcusable” tweets and was grateful for the work he’d been involved in.
“Some people just need a tap on the shoulder to change. Others need a slap in the face. Me? I’ve often needed a piano dropped on my head. The piano fell years ago, but I suppose I’m still crawling out from under the wreckage in some ways,” he said in a statement. “I’m better than I’ve been. And I intend to be better than I am.”
Howe previously worked on an anti-Trump documentary film with the Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson and joined the group when it was founded late last year.
“I want to be a feminist but every time I call someone a [c—] I get yelled at,” Howe wrote in a June 2018 tweet.
Howe also responded to a June 2017 New York Times story about women being talked over and interrupted in the workplace by tweeting that it is “only when they won’t stop yapping about their period or whatever.”
Before Trump’s election, Howe wrote that Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton’s voice “makes me want to cut my ears off with a hacksaw” but that he still found Trump so distasteful he would vote for her.
Howe frequently criticized the Republican Party for helping elect a candidate who described assaulting women, referencing “Access Hollywood” footage that was published by The Washington Post before the 2016 election.
Howe’s parting from the Lincoln Project comes as the group seeks to show it can pivot to influencing voters after demonstrating it was able to provoke a response from Trump, who has called the group a “disgrace to Honest Abe” and its founders “LOSERS.”
The group raised $16.8 million last quarter and says it will soon expand its ground operations.