Chairman of American Conservative Union Matt Schlapp gives opening remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort Hotel And Convention Center on February 22, 2024 in National Harbor, Maryland Source: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Report: Close to Half a Mil Paid to Resolve Groping Accusations Against Conservative Leader Matt Schlapp

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

Carlton Huffman, a "GOP operative" who accused Republican luminary and chairman of the American Conservative Union Matt Schlapp of groping him, has reportedly received a settlement of close to half a million dollars.

CNN reported on the alleged $480,000 settlement, citing "multiple sources familiar with the case" and quoted from a statement that Huffman purportedly made and that was provided by lawyers for Schlapp – a statement that, CNN said, "was part of their private agreement..."

"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," the statement attributed to Huffman said, according to CNN.

"Neither the Schlapps nor the ACU paid me anything to dismiss my claims against them," the statement added.

"But multiple sources familiar with the allegations and legal proceedings told CNN that Huffman did, in fact, receive a financial settlement via an insurance company," CNN relayed.

All Huffman would tell CNN was, "'We have resolved our differences.' Those are the only five words that I'm legally allowed to say."

Schlapp, however, was free to comment on the case, and he did so in a way that seemed to turn the accusations into a smear against the press.

"From the beginning, I asserted my innocence," the ACU chairman declared in a statement. "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."

CNN offered a few facts that provided background for Schlapp and the ACU, noting that the ACU is "most widely known for staging the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC."

CNN went on to note that, "After serving in the George W. Bush White House as director of political affairs, Schlapp took over the ACU in 2014. His wife, Mercedes Schlapp, who was also named in the lawsuit, worked as Trump's communications director for nearly two years, from 2017 to 2019."

The reported settlement comes a few months before Huffman's lawsuit would have gone to trial in June, CNN detailed.

"By agreeing to the deal now, Schlapp and his lawyers prevented potentially damaging testimony from becoming public," the CNN account said, "including a deposition by Charlie Gerow, a former vice chair of CPAC and ACU board member who expressed serious concerns about Schlapp's behavior in his resignation letter, as well as two witnesses who had previously accused Schlapp of sexual misconduct."

"Schlapp will also be spared from having to testify in open court."

Asked about the motive for the purported settlement, one source told CNN that "they believed that Schlapp and his wife 'did not want this to go to trial, they simply did not want the testimony that would come out.'"

"It's not exoneration if you paid the guy off," CNN quoted the source as saying.

As previously reported, Huffman filed suit against Schlapp and the ACU early in 2023, seeking $9.4 million and alleging that Schlapp groped Huffman's crotch and "pummeled" his genitalia "at length". Huffman initially made his claims anonymously. When a judge made dropping that anonymity a condition of proceeding with the suit, he identified himself, at which point he was forced to address his past as a white supremacist.

"I had some politically incorrect views that came from a place of undue reverence for the Confederacy when I was growing up," The New York Times reported Huffman saying. "After doing some soul-searching, I turned away from those views in 2011 and everything in my history since then shows a genuine change of heart."

On the night he claimed Schlapp fondled him, Huffman recorded videos of himself tearfully describing a situation in which "Matt Schlapp of the CPAC grabbed my junk and pummeled it at length, and I'm sitting there thinking what the hell is going on, that this person is literally doing this to me."

Huffman's videos, which he shared with The Daily Beast, claimed that the alleged groping took place during a car ride Schlapp and Huffman shared from a bar to a hotel.

"From the bar to the Hilton Garden Inn, he has his hands on me," Huffman said in a video. "And I feel so fucking dirty. I feel so fucking dirty."

Huffman added in the video: "I'm supposed to pick this motherfucker up in the morning and just pretend like nothing happened."

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

Read These Next