A staffer for Herschel Walker’s failed U.S. Senate campaign has alleged that he longtime Republican activist Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union and lead organizer of its Conservative Political Action Conference, groped and fondled his crotch in his car after buying him drinks at two different Atlanta bars.
According to The Daily Beast, the staffer claims Schlapp, who had traveled to Georgia for a Walker campaign event, repeatedly intruded into his personal space at the bars, making “sustained and unwanted and unsolicited” sexual contact with him.
The staffer — whose name was not published in order to protect him from retaliation — said Schlapp claimed to want to discuss the staffer’s professional future. The staffer felt uncomfortable by the attention visited on him by Schlapp, but was also aware of the “power dynamic” between him and Schlapp, who is one of the more influential figures in national conservative politics, and did not want to call attention to the behavior in front of others.
“It was a public space, and I was thinking that he got the hint. I did not want to embarrass him,” he said. “But it escalated.”
The staffer, who is in his late 30s and has promised to come forward publicly if Schlapp denies his allegations, said that while driving Schlapp back to his hotel, Schlapp put his hand on the staffer’s leg, then reached over and “fondled” his crotch at length while he was frozen in shock. When they arrived at the hotel, the staffer claimed Schlapp invited him to his room. The staffer said he declined and left “as quickly as I could.”
When he returned home that evening, he received a call from Schlapp shortly after midnight, according to phone records he shared with The Daily Beast. Schlapp called to confirm that the staffer would chauffeur him to an event in Macon the next day. After confirming he would drive him and hanging up, the staffer said he “broke down.”
The staffer recorded a series of tearful video accounts detailing the evening, which he shared with The Daily Beast and two other people close to him, including his wife.
“What is wrong with me? This is OK to happen?” he said in one of the videos. “I don’t know what I did. It’s very sad that this is OK.”
In another video, the staffer recounted the evening’s events, alleging that Schlapp had groped him “in a sustained and unsolicited and unwanted manner.”
“Matt Schlapp of the CPAC grabbed my junk and pummeled it at length, and I’m sitting there thinking what the hell is going on, that this person is literally doing this to me,” the staffer reportedly says in the video. “From the bar to the Hilton Garden Inn, he has his hands on me. And I feel so fucking dirty. I feel so fucking dirty.
“I’m supposed to pick this motherfucker up in the morning and just pretend like nothing happened. This is what I’m dealing with,” he added. “This is what I got to do.”
The staffer said he informed the Walker campaign of the incident the following morning.
According to phone records and messages reviewed by The Daily Beast, the following morning, Schlapp sent the staffer a text at 7:26 a.m. saying, “I’m in the lobby.” A minute later, the staffer called his supervisor, and then a senior campaign official. The staffer said the senior official was “immediately horrified” and pulled him off the driving duty, instructing him to tell Schlapp in writing that he’d made him uncomfortable.
“I did want to say I was uncomfortable with what happened last night. The campaign does have a driver who is available to get you to Macon and back to the airport,” the staffer said in a text to Schlapp, providing him with the name and phone number of the new driver.
“Pls give me a call,” Schlapp replied. “Thx.”
Schlapp then called the staffer three times over the next 20 minutes. When the staffer did not answer or return the calls, Schlapp texted him at 12:12 p.m., writing: “If you could see it in your heart to call me at the end of the day. I would appreciate it. If not I wish you luck on the campaign and hope you keep up the good work.”
When approached by The Daily Beast about the allegations, Schlapp’s attorney, Charlie Spies, denied them, and attacked the online news site for reporting on the staffer’s claims.
“This appears to be now the twelfth Daily Beast piece with personal attacks on Matt Schlapp and his family. The attack is false and Mr. Schlapp denies any improper behavior,” Spies said. “We are evaluating legal options for response.”
The staffer said he has not had any communication with Schlapp since the final text. He noted that the Walker campaign had provided him “nothing but support,” saying he never felt pressure and was given “complete autonomy” over how to move forward. The campaign offered him the option of legal and therapeutic support, as well as pressing charges.
But he ultimately declined to take legal action at the time, claiming that he was concerned that speaking out against Schlapp could carry professional consequences and endanger his future career options in conservative politics. He also worried that going public at the time would simply aggravate the “circus of scandals” surrounding Walker’s campaign, including allegations that Walker paid for a girlfriend’s abortion after she got pregnant.
A senior Walker campaign official confirmed the details of the campaign’s involvement, but said the campaign had no further contact with Schlapp after the incident. The official said they did not believe that Schlapp took up their offer for the private drive. The driver told The Daily Beast that he did not recall Schlapp, and could find no record of any passenger with that name in his client logs.
Schlapp has been married to conservative commentator and consultant Mercedes Schlapp, the former White House director of public communications during the Trump administration, since 2002. He previously floated the idea of running for an open U.S. Senate race in Kansas in 2020, but ultimately decided against mounting such a campaign.
Both Schlapp and his wife have expressed opposition to LGBTQ rights, especially same-sex marriage, and have sought to paint Christians as a victimized class of people who are under attack from socially liberal policies pushed by the Left and the Biden administration. They have advocated for so-called “religious freedom” legislation that would provide exemptions for people who wish to refuse goods and services to others based on the seller’s personal objections to same-sex marriage or homosexuality.
In his role as chairman of the American Conservative Union, Schlapp oversees the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, a gathering of conservative activists and politicians who come together to discuss political organizing tactics, messaging, and attend workshops focusing on various aspects of the conservative movement.
That said, Schlapp, a devout Catholic, has also previously been criticized by some on the far right for allowing the gay political group Log Cabin Republicans to sponsor CPAC, saying that gays are welcome to attend the conference, but their presence does not mean the ACU or the broader conservative movement are compromising their stances on social issues.
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