Speed Reads

Name and blame

Man accusing CPAC chief Matt Schlapp of unwanted groping steps forward

The longtime Republican political aide who anonymously accused, then sued, American Conservative Union head Matt Schlapp of sexual assault in January has stepped forward. A judge in Alexandria, Virginia, ruled Wednesday that Carlton Huffman, 39, had to use his real name if he want to proceed with his $9.4 million sexual battery and defamation suit against Schlapp and his wife, GOP heavyweight Mercedes Schlapp. Huffman said he will amend his lawsuit to include his real name. 

"The judge ruled the way she did, but we're ready to move forward," Huffman told The New York Times. "I'm not backing away," he told The Washington Post. "I'm not going to drop this. Matt Schlapp did what he did and he needs to be held accountable." Huffman had sought to retain anonymity citing fears of professional and physical retaliation, given the power held by Schlapp, whose organization runs the influential Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Schlapp, 55, acknowledges in court documents that he texted and called Huffman and met him for drinks at two Atlanta bars last November, when Huffman was working for GOP Senate hopeful Herschel Walker's campaign and was detailed to drive Schlapp home from a Walker event. But Schlapp denies Huffman's allegations that he put his hand on Huffman's leg and then fondled his genitals on the ride back to Schlapp's hotel, then invited Huffman up to his room. 

"We are confident that when his full record is brought to light in a court of law, we will prevail," Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Schlapp, tweeted after Wednesday's hearing. 

That record includes racist and pro-Confederacy commentary from Huffman at a white supremacist radio program and website 12 years ago, unearthed through an anonymous email account in late January. "That was an ugly chapter of my life that I am personally ashamed of," Huffman told the Post. "That is not who I am anymore."

In the case at hand, Huffman has provided significant corroboration, including contemporaneous text messages with Schlapp and friends and family, and a video detailing his assault hours after it allegedly happened. Now that Huffman has come forward, the Post published that video Wednesday. 

Three Walker staffers, Huffman's wife, and his mother all told the Post that Huffman told them about the alleged groping soon after it happened, and they believe him. Schlapp can now make his case against a named accuser.