A lawsuit was filed by an nameless accuser Tuesday towards Matt Schlapp and his spouse Mercedes, two distinguished Republican insiders in Washington, DC, alleging sexual battery and defamation. The 2 are a conservative energy couple on the intersection between conventional motion conservatism and the MAGA wing of the GOP.

The lawsuit originates from October 2022, when Schlapp allegedly groped and propositioned a male staffer on Herschel Walker’s Senate marketing campaign whereas showing at occasions for the Georgia Republican. The incident, first reported by the Day by day Beast, was promptly reported to senior officers on the Walker marketing campaign, which Vox has been in a position to verify.

The lawsuit not solely targets Schlapp for what’s described as “aggressively fondling [the plaintiff’s] genital space in a sustained method,” however for what it describes as an organized effort by Schlapp and his spouse to discredit and defame the accuser. The lawsuit additionally alleges that the accuser was defamed by Charlie Spies, Schlapp’s lawyer, and Caroline Wren, a Republican operative concerned within the notorious January 6, 2021, rally in Washington, DC, along with the Schlapps. The lawsuit features a textual content that Mercedes Schlapp despatched to a neighborhood group chat that falsely described the accuser as “a troubled particular person who has been fired for mendacity.”

Who’s Matt Schlapp?

Schlapp is on the heart of the conservative institution in Washington. The previous political director within the George W. Bush White Home, in 2014 he turned head of the American Conservative Union (ACU), the right-wing group that places on the annual, extremely influential Conservative Political Motion Coalition (CPAC) convention. Schlapp’s prominence grew throughout the Trump administration when he turned a vocal ally of the previous president, showing repeatedly on Fox Information, and Mercedes Schlapp turned a prime staffer contained in the Trump White Home. On the identical time, Schlapp, a father of 5, maintained an energetic lobbying presence by means of his agency Cove Methods and raked in thousands and thousands throughout the Trump administration. As authors Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng described them in their critically acclaimed e book Sinking within the Swamp, “the Schlapps have carved out a distinct segment for themselves as a Trump-era energy couple, wielding affect within the president’s internal circle and translating that affect into profitable lobbying offers.”

Why does he matter?

Schlapp issues due to the ACU and CPAC. There are lots of well-connected Republicans contained in the Beltway, and positively plenty of Trump allies, who’ve tried to leverage their connections with the previous president into changing into proper wing media personalities. However what separates Schlapp out of your common Tom, Dick, or Seb Gorka is his management over CPAC. The convention is the annual measuring stick of the conservative motion’s id and has adopted the proper’s drift into Trumpism as figures as soon as banned from the convention as extremists now are featured audio system. It’s the place that institution politicians seem when they should woo conservatives and the place conservative politicians present as much as get seen.

CPAC is also a profit-making heart the place sponsors attempt to get the conservative motion to embrace their coverage objectives. Within the Trump period, conventional company sponsors have backed away for extra MAGA-inclined teams and corporations. The fights over what subjects are and aren’t mentioned at CPAC are heated. Most not too long ago, conventional social conservatives complained that abortion had been sidetracked in favor of MAGAworld favorites like focusing on massive tech and “wokeism.”

Lastly, CPAC is a scene. It attracts Republican officeholders, aspiring officeholders, operatives, consultants, grifters, and simply plain weirdos from throughout the nation. It’s a spot the place attendees present up dressed as George Washington, a disgraced Congress member has a sizzling tub social gathering, and the place lots of the sausage-making of Washington networking will get accomplished. Whereas different conservative teams like TPUSA have held buzzier occasions with high-profile audio system as properly, CPAC nonetheless maintains a novel convening energy on the fitting.

The go well with raises questions on whether or not Schlapp will be capable to retain his extremely distinguished position as head of the ACU and comes solely weeks earlier than CPAC’s annual convention in early March, which usually attracts worldwide consideration. The convention has partnered with conservative LGBT teams prior to now, like GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans, though it additionally hosted audio system like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who denounced same-sex marriage on stage finally 12 months’s convention in Texas.

What occurs now

In an announcement to Vox, Tim Hyland, a lawyer for the accuser, mentioned: “Our shopper is the sufferer of a sexual assault by Mr. Schlapp … Mr. Schlapp has indirectly denied our shopper’s allegations and with good cause — they’re unmistakably true and corroborated by in depth contemporaneous proof. As an alternative, he has by means of his pals and associates began a whisper marketing campaign and leveled social media assaults spreading lies about our shopper.

“We intend to maintain a singular focus to display that Matt Schlapp is a sexual predator who assaulted our shopper. As a result of Mr. Schlapp has refused to come clean with his habits, this go well with goals to make Mr. Schlapp and people who lie for him accountable for his or her actions.” The go well with asks for at the least $9.4 million in damages.

In a assertion posted by Schlapp on Twitter, Spies mentioned: “This nameless criticism demonstrates the accuser’s actual agenda, working in live performance with [the] Day by day Beast to assault and hurt the Schlapp household. The criticism is fake and the Schlapp household is struggling insufferable ache and stress because of the false allegation from an nameless particular person. No household ought to ever undergo this, and the Schlapps and their authorized group are assessing counter-lawsuit choices.”

Neither Schlapp nor Spies responded to follow-up requests for remark from Vox.

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