GOP aide who accused Matt Schlapp of sexual misconduct comes forward ahead of $9.4m case

A man who had previously anonymously accused the powerful head of the American Conservative Union of sexual harassment has now come forward.

Carlton Huffman, a longtime GOP aide, did so in an interview with The Washington Post this week after a judge ruled that he must do so in order to proceed with a $9.6m lawsuit against Mr Schlapp. He plans to file an amended suit, according to the Post, removing the barrier to pursuing legal action.

“I’m not backing away,” he told the newspaper.

Matt Schlapp did what he did, and he needs to be held accountable,” said Mr Huffman, who added: “I’m not going to drop this.”

Mr Schlapp avoided questions from The Independent when questioned on the issue at CPAC 2023, held at the Gaylord convention centre in National Harbor, Md. He has previously denied the aide’s claims.

Mr Huffman claims that Mr Schlapp groped his crotch without his consent during a mutual trip the two made to Georgia last fall, in the days leading up to the contentious Senate election in the state. Mr Huffman and Mr Schlapp were there to campaign for Herschel Walker, the football star-turned-politician who like other Trump-endorsed candidates Dr Mehment Oz and Blake Masters came up short in his bid for Senate.

He further claims that the ACU leader made unwanted advances towards him.

An attorney for Mr Schlapp expressed confidence but refused to comment further after a hearing in the case on Wednesday.

“We are confident that when his full record is brought to light in a court of law, we will prevail,” said Mark Carallo, adding: “Out of respect for the court, we have no further comment at this time.”

CPAC 2023 featured sparse attendance compared to the event’s previous iterations, which many took as a sign of the ACU’s far-rightward shift under the presidency of Donald Trump. The conference this year was largely a celebration of Mr Trump and his administration, even though two of Mr Trump’s announced 2024 rivals as well as likely candidate Mike Pompeo spoke at this year’s event as well.

The three-day conference culminated with a speech from the former president, who is once again seeking the presidency. His likely top rival for the 2024 nomination, Ron DeSantis, spoke at a separate event over the same weekend.