Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Who is Matt Schlapp, Trump’s closest ally facing sexual battery charges?

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An anonymous prosecutor filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Matt Schlapp and his wife Mercedes, two prominent Washington, D.C., Republican insiders, alleging sexual assault and libel. The two are a conservative power couple at the intersection of traditional movement conservatism and the GOP’s MAGA wing.

The lawsuit dates back to October 2022, when Schlapp allegedly groped and proposed to a male Herschel Walker senatorial campaign aide while appearing at events for the Georgia Republican. The incident, first reported by the Daily Beastwas immediately reported to senior Walker campaign officials, which cafemadrid has been able to confirm.

The lawsuit isn’t just targeting Schlapp for what is described as “aggressive stroking [the plaintiff’s] genital area in a sustainable way,” but for what it describes as an organized effort by Schlapp and his wife to discredit and defame the accuser. The lawsuit also alleges that the prosecution was defamed by Charlie Spies, Schlapp’s attorney, and Caroline Wren, a Republican operative involved in the infamous January 6, 2021 rally in Washington, D.C., alongside the Schlapps. The lawsuit includes a text message Mercedes Schlapp sent to a nearby group chat that falsely described the accuser as “a troubled person who has been fired for lying.”

Who is Matt Schlapp?

Schlapp is at the center of Washington’s conservative establishment. The former political director in the White House of George W. Bush, in 2014 became head of the American Conservative Union (ACU), the right-wing group that hosts the highly influential annual Conservative Political Action Coalition (CPAC) conference. Schlapp’s fame grew during the Trump administration as he became a vocal ally of the former president and appeared regularly on Fox News, and Mercedes Schlapp became a top aide in the Trump White House. At the same time, Schlapp, a father of five, continued to actively lobby through his company Cove Strategies and rake in millions during the Trump administration. As authors Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng she described in it their acclaimed book Sinking in the swamp, “The Schlapps have carved out a niche for themselves as a Trump-era power couple, exerting influence in the president’s inner circle and translating that influence into lucrative lobbying deals.”

Why does he matter?

Schlapp is important because of the ACU and CPAC. There are many well-connected Republicans within the Beltway, and certainly some of Trump’s allies, who have tried to leverage their connections with the former president to become right-wing media personalities. But what sets Schlapp apart from the average Tom, Dick, or Seb Gorka is his control over CPAC. The conference is the annual yardstick of the Conservative movement’s id and has the the right is drifting towards Trumpism as figures ever banned of the conference as extremists are now featured speakers. It’s the place that established politicians appear when to court conservatives and where to court conservative politicians show up to get noticed.

CPAC is also a for-profit center where sponsors try to get the conservative movement to embrace their policy goals. Traditional corporate sponsors in the Trump era have withdrawn for more MAGA-inclined groups and companies. The battles over what topics are and aren’t discussed at CPAC are heated. Most recently, traditional social conservatives have complained about abortion was sidetracked in favor of MAGAworld favorites like targeting big tech and “wokeism.”

Finally, CPAC is a scene. It draws Republican office holders, aspiring public officials, agents, advisers, con artists, and just plain weirdos from across the country. It’s a place where attendees come dressed as George Washington, a disgraced congressman a bubble bath party, and where much of Washington’s sausage-making networking is done. While other conservative groups like TPUSA have also held buzzier events with high-profile speakers, CPAC still retains a unique convening force on the right.

The lawsuit raises questions about whether Schlapp will be able to retain his highly prominent role as head of the ACU and comes just weeks before the annual CPAC conference in early March, which typically draws international attention. The conference has historically collaborated with conservative LGBT groups such as GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans, although there have also been speakers such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who denounced same-sex marriage on stage at last year’s conference in Texas.

What happens now

In a statement to cafemadrid, Tim Hyland, an attorney for the plaintiff, said: “Our client is the victim of a sexual assault by Mr. Schlapp … Mr. Schlapp has not directly denied our client’s allegations and rightly so – they are undeniably true and are corroborated by extensive contemporaneous evidence, Instead, he has launched a whispering campaign through his friends and associates and launched attacks on social media to spread lies about our client.

“We intend to maintain a single focus to demonstrate that Matt Schlapp is a sexual predator who assaulted our client. Because Mr. Schlapp has refused to admit his behavior, this lawsuit aims to hold Mr. Schlapp and those who lie before him accountable for their actions.” The suit calls for at least $9.4 million in case of damage.

In a pronunciation posted by Schlapp on Twitter, Spies said, “This anonymous complaint demonstrates the real agenda of the prosecution, in conjunction with [the] Daily Beast to attack and harm the Schlapp family. The complaint is false and the Schlapp family suffer excruciating pain and stress as a result of the false accusation made by an anonymous individual. No family should ever have to go through this, and the Schlapps and their legal team are assessing options for a countersuit.

Neither Schlapp nor Spies responded to follow-up requests for comment from cafemadrid.


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