GOP Operative Drops Sexual Assault Suit Against Matt Schlapp

Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images
Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images

The GOP campaign operative who accused Matt Schlapp of inappropriately groping his groin in 2022 has dropped lawsuits filed against the CPAC chairman, his associates, and his wife, Mercedes.

The dropped suits appear to end a long saga involving the Schlapps and Carlton Huffman, an ex-campaign staffer for the former Senate hopeful Herschel Walker who has since been accused of sexual assault himself.

In a statement shared with Politico by Schlapp’s lawyers, Huffman apologized to the Schlapp family and said he regretted ever filing the lawsuits against them, CPAC, the ACU, and Caroline Wren, an adviser to Matt Schlapp.

“The claims made in my lawsuits were the result of a complete misunderstanding, and I regret that the lawsuit caused pain to the Schlapp family,” Huffman said in the statement, according to Politico. “The Schlapps have advised that the statements made about me were the result of a misunderstanding, which was regrettable. Neither the Schlapps nor the ACU paid me anything to dismiss my claims against them.”

Schlapp, who is the chairman of the American Conservative Union and remains one of the GOP’s most powerful figures, has denied any inappropriate behavior.

“From the beginning, we asserted our innocence. Our family was attacked, especially by a left-wing media that is focused on the destruction of conservatives regardless of the truth and the facts,” Schlapp wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “But we emerge from this ordeal stronger as husband and wife, stronger as parents to our five daughters, stronger as friends to those who stood by us.”

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Schlapp did not respond to a text from The Daily Beast asking if Huffman was ever compensated by any entity in connection with the case. The ACU’s general counsel, David Safavian, and Schlapp’s personal attorney, Benjamin Chew, did not respond to emailed questions.

In a text to Politico on Tuesday, Huffman confirmed that the statement shared by Schlapp’s lawyers was accurate. “We have resolved our differences,” he said.

Huffman had requested $9.4 million from the Schlapps for a count of sexual battery, a count of defamation against the couple, and a count of conspiracy against them for what Huffman claimed were attempts to defame him.

Talk of a settlement for the allegations lingered for more than a year, with reports in August that Schlapp made an offer to Huffman last March to settle the lawsuits against him, but had the offer rejected by Huffman.

At the time, sources said the offer was in the low six figures—an amount that Huffman balked at. Sources said Huffman countered with a substantially higher amount, which was rejected by Schlapp.

Once news of the alleged settlement offer leaked, lawyers for Schlapp insisted to The Daily Beast that Schlapp never made an offer and that they planned to take the issue to trial.

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The allegations first surfaced in January 2023—the same month Huffman filed a lawsuit claiming that Schlapp, without consent, had “groped” and “fondled” his groin as he drove him to his hotel after a campaign event for Walker in 2022.

Huffman alleged that Schlapp had also invited him up to his hotel room after a night of drinking in Atlanta, but he claimed he declined. Huffman provided contemporaneous communications to support his account at the time, which was further corroborated by campaign officials and several media outlets.

In the aftermath of the lawsuits being filed, sources inside Schlapp’s circle described his behavior as “bizarre.” He rejected calls for an internal probe, and ACU board meetings were structured in a way that precluded any discussion of the allegation.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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