The head of the American Conservative Union, which organizes the prominent annual Conservative Political Action Conference, faces new allegations of sexual misconduct as a top board member has stepped down.
Charlie Gerow, the vice chairman of the board at the ACU, resigned Friday, The Washington Post reported Sunday. In his resignation letter, Gerow urged the board to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct directed at ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp.
ACU is best known as the driving force behind CPAC, an annual gathering of conservative activists where Republican politicians and presidential hopefuls have spoken over the last 50 years.
New allegations against Schlapp outlined in The Washington Post Sunday involve two instances where young male staffers allege they were subject to unwanted physical contact.
In the first incident, which took place in 2017, Schlapp is accused of trying to kiss a male ACU staffer without his consent at a work function after drinking. Five years later, Schlapp allegedly made unwanted physical advances on an employee of another organization during a CPAC business trip in Palm Beach, Florida.
“These allegations are completely fabricated and represent a blatant attempt by Mr. Gerow and disgruntled individuals to force Mr. Schlapp to step down,” Matt Smith, a member of the ACU executive committee, said in a statement. “Only when it became clear that he was not going to be reelected to the board did he fabricate these false allegations.”
Earlier this year, GOP strategist Carlton Huffman filed a lawsuit alleging that Schlapp grabbed his crotch and invited him back to his hotel room as the longtime Republican operative drove the ACU Chairman around Atlanta, Georgia, ahead of last year’s U.S. Senate election.
While court filings reveal that Schlapp has admitted to texting and calling Huffman and spending time with him at two bars, the high-profile political insider has denied committing any act of sexual impropriety against him.
The lawsuit against Schlapp stemming from the alleged encounter with Huffman continues to proceed in the Circuit Court for the City of Alexandria, Virginia. Although Huffman initially elected to remain anonymous, as reflected in the complaint titled Doe v. Schlapp, he later came forward to The Washington Post after a judge ruled he couldn’t proceed anonymously.
The lawsuit alleges that at one of the bars, “Schlapp sat unusually close to Mr. Doe, such that his leg repeatedly contacted and was in almost constant contact with Mr. Doe’s leg.”
“Mr. Schlapp was so close to Mr. Doe that he bumped into Mr. Doe’s torso where Mr. Doe had a Sig Sauer handgun holstered, asked about it, and professed an unfamiliarity with this weapon and firearms generally,” the complaint states. “Mr. Schlapp also encouraged Mr. Doe to have more drinks despite the fact that Mr. Doe was driving.”
The suit accuses Schlapp of sexual battery by “fondling Mr. Doe’s genital area in a sustained fashion” and also accuses Schlapp and his wife, Mercedes, of defamation.
The legal filing contains a screenshot of Mercedes Schlapp describing the then-anonymous accuser as a “troubled individual” who has “been fired from multiple jobs including one firing for lying and lying on his resume.”
The complaint contends that her assertion was false and defamatory. The Schlapps are also accused of conspiracy.
Huffman is seeking a $7 million judgment against Schlapp, $700,000 in punitive damages concerning the two counts against him and an additional $3 million judgment against the Schlapps for the other two counts in addition to $700,000 in damages.
In a statement posted to Twitter Friday, CPAC reacted to Gerow’s call for an investigation into the allegations by sharing a video of the former board member praising Schlapp’s leadership at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
“Isn’t it remarkable what under his leadership and the team that he has assembled and the staff that he has brought together, what CPAC has become?” Gerow asked in the video.
There are multiple public videos of Charlie Gerow endorsing and supporting the Chairman’s leadership including extended remarks at the most recent national CPAC while the organization was under attack. We took Mr. Gerow’s public comments as being truthful, and we have no reason… pic.twitter.com/VmFpXGRewe
— CPAC (@CPAC) August 25, 2023
“There are multiple public videos of Charlie Gerow endorsing and supporting the Chairman’s leadership including extended remarks at the most recent national CPAC while the organization was under national attack,” CPAC’s statement read. “We took Mr. Gerow’s public comments as being truthful, and we have no reason to doubt them now.”
CPAC speculated that an ulterior motive underlies Gerow’s resignation and conversation with The Washington Post.
“It was only after Charlie Gerow realized that the board was not going to give him an additional term that he decided to resign. It comes as no surprise that we learned of his resignation from The Washington Post. This is the same paper that received all the previous leaks this year.”
CPAC insisted that it “remains committed to compliance,” adding, “Having a board that is unified toward the goal of defeating the left and winning on important issues and in the next election is critical to saving America.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: email@example.com
Free Religious Freedom Updates
Join thousands of others to get the FREEDOM POST newsletter for free, sent twice a week from The Christian Post.