Speed Reads

More than words

GOP campaign staffer sues CPAC head Matt Schlapp over sexual assault allegation, defamation

A Republican campaign worker who has accused American Conservative Union chair Matt Schlapp of groping his crotch last October sued Schlapp and his wife, fellow Republican operative Mercedes Schlapp, on Tuesday for defamation and sexual battery. 

The unidentified GOP campaign staffer was working for Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker's campaign at the time of the alleged groping. He told The Daily Beast in early January that if Matt Schlapp denied his sexual assault allegations, he would step forward and identify himself. Schlapp has denied the allegation. But the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Virginia Circuit Court in Alexandra was filed anonymously.

The lawsuit accuses Schlapp of "aggressively fondling" the man's "genital area in a sustained fashion" while the two were alone in a car, en route to Schlapp's Atlanta hotel room on Oct. 19. The episode left the staffer "frozen with shock, mortification, and fear from what was happening, particularly given Mr. Schlapp's power and status in conservative political circles," the lawsuit said. It also accuses Mercedes Schlapp of defamation for texting her neighbors that the staffer is a "troubled individual" who had been "fired from multiple jobs," including for "lying on his résumé." The staffer claims none of those allegations are true, Politico and The New York Times report.

"The Schlapp family is suffering unbearable pain and stress due to the false allegation from an anonymous individual," Schlapp lawyer Charlie Spies said in a statement. "No family should ever go through this and the Schlapps and their legal team are assessing counter-lawsuit options." The American Conservative Union, which runs the influential Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), is standing behind Schlapp. 

The staffer's attorney, Timothy Hyland, said his client "takes no joy in filing this lawsuit," but Schlapp "has had ample time to accept responsibility and apologize for his despicable actions."

Multiple Walker campaign officials backed up the staffer's version of events, saying he informed the campaign the morning after the alleged incident and his supervisor told him not to drive Schlapp to a Macon campaign event, as scheduled.

Schlapp did not show up at the Macon rally or explain why he cut his trip short, Walker's campaign staff told Politico. And "if he had shown up to the event, we were not going to have him speak," a senior Walker campaign official added. "We were going to politely decline."