WASHINGTON — Matt Schlapp, one of many nation’s most outstanding conservative leaders and a high ally of former President Donald Trump, is being accused of sexually groping a male aide on Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s marketing campaign in October.

“He reached in between my legs and fondled me,” the previous Walker staffer informed NBC Information in a phone interview Thursday evening. “To my disgrace, I didn’t say something” to cease Schlapp. NBC Information is withholding the staffer’s identify at his request as a result of he fears the allegations in opposition to a robust Republican might hurt his personal profession in GOP politics.

Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, is married to former Trump White Home aide Mercedes Schlapp. His group hosts the Conservative Political Motion Convention, a vital proving floor for Republican presidential hopefuls.

Schlapp didn’t reply to textual content messages looking for remark, together with one detailing every level of his accuser’s story. His lawyer, Charlie Spies, didn’t instantly return a name from NBC Information looking for touch upon the allegations. However Spies did inform The Day by day Beast, which first reported on the staffer’s story, that Schlapp had denied them.

On Friday night, after this story was printed, two ACU board members issued an announcement standing by Schlapp.

“We stand squarely behind Matt Schlapp, and the ACU Board of Administrators has full confidence in his management of the group,” mentioned Charlie Gerow and Carolyn Meadows, the primary and second vice chairs of the board.

“We have now each recognized Matt and his spouse, Mercedes, for many years. We all know Matt Schlapp’s coronary heart and his character. And we imagine this newest try at character assassination is fake,” they added. “Sadly, the Left and its observe takers within the media routinely select to scorch the earth of their quest to cancel these with whom they disagree. Whether or not it includes conservative judicial nominees or good individuals like Matt Schlapp, they’ll sink to any depth to destroy them and their households.”

A senior official on the Walker marketing campaign confirmed that the aide shared the allegation together with his supervisors on the time. 

“I used to be made conscious of the incident the morning after,” mentioned the official, who described high marketing campaign aides conferring on the matter and developing with a plan to spare the aide from having to select up Schlapp once more.

On Oct. 19, Schlapp hit the hustings for Walker at an occasion in Perry, Georgia, about 100 miles south of Atlanta. The mid-level Walker aide was assigned to chauffeur Schlapp, who invited him to fulfill for drinks that evening on the Capital Grille restaurant within the Buckhead part of Atlanta, the staffer mentioned. He believed the additional face-to-face time might assist him solidify an expert reference to one of many social gathering’s most influential figures.

As the 2 males started to drink, the staffer mentioned, Schlapp apologized for the bar “being lifeless.” The staffer took Schlapp to Manuel’s Tavern, a well known hang-out for Georgia politicos — significantly Democrats — about quarter-hour away. 

Schlapp, who drank Tito’s vodka in the course of the evening, started “intruding into my private house” on the second bar, the staffer mentioned. At one level, Schlapp ran into the staffer’s gun whereas their legs touched, the staffer mentioned, prompting Schlapp to ask what he was carrying.

“Sig Sauer,” the aide mentioned, stunned to search out that Schlapp appeared unfamiliar with the identify of the gun given CPAC’s emphasis on Second Modification rights. Schlapp, who grew up in Wichita, a large metropolis in Kansas, defined that he didn’t have a background with firearms, the staffer mentioned. 

“Are you uncomfortable me?” Schlapp requested later, making the aide much more uncomfortable than he already was, he mentioned. In brief order, he informed Schlapp that they’d an early morning and it was greatest to name it an evening. 

Because the staffer drove from Manuel’s Tavern down the John Lewis Freedom Parkway towards the junction of Interstate 20 and Interstate 85, Schlapp started fondling his leg, he mentioned. That progressed, the staffer mentioned, as the 2 males made their means towards the Hilton Backyard Inn on the Atlanta airport, a experience of about quarter-hour with little site visitors. 

“From Manuel’s Tavern to the Hilton Backyard Inn there on the Atlanta airport, he actually had his arms on me,” the staffer mentioned in a video he recorded early within the morning of Oct. 20, simply a few hours after the alleged incident. “Matt Schlapp of the CPAC grabbed my junk and pummeled it at size.” The staffer didn’t publish the video publicly however shared it with NBC Information.

“To my disgrace, I didn’t say ‘no’ or ‘cease,'” the staffer mentioned within the video, a recollection he repeated within the interview with NBC Information. “God is aware of it was not a needed advance.” 

When the 2 arrived on the resort, Schlapp invited the staffer to his room, the staffer mentioned. The staffer declined. Inside a few hours, round 12:45 a.m., the staffer started recording movies of himself recounting what he mentioned had occurred, which he shared with NBC Information. He reached out to senior marketing campaign employees later that morning to relay the story, and so they suggested him easy methods to reply the subsequent morning when Schlapp texted to say he was within the foyer able to be chauffeured. 

“I did need to say I used to be uncomfortable with what occurred final evening,” the staffer texted, based on display photographs he shared with NBC Information. “The marketing campaign does have a driver who is accessible to get you to Macon and again to the airport.” The aide shared the identify and telephone variety of his colleague. 

“Pls give me a name,” got here the reply from Schlapp, based on the display photographs. The staffer offered NBC Information with Schlapp’s telephone quantity to confirm that the textual content got here from Schlapp. Schlapp repeatedly referred to as the staffer, who didn’t reply, based on display photographs of the staffer’s telephone log, together with twice at 7:53 a.m. and as soon as at 8:09 a.m.

The senior marketing campaign official mentioned that Schlapp didn’t attend the occasion the next morning and didn’t talk with the Walker marketing campaign about getting one other experience to the airport.

“The entire thing makes me bodily in poor health,” mentioned the senior Walker marketing campaign official.

Each the staffer and the senior marketing campaign official mentioned the Walker marketing campaign made authorized counsel out there to the staffer to debate his authorized choices and indicated the marketing campaign would help no matter determination he made. He has not pursued authorized motion in opposition to Schlapp, he mentioned.

The staffer mentioned he was talking to the information media to make others conscious of what he described as predatory habits by Schlapp.

“If he had made a well mannered move at me and left it that,” the staffer mentioned, “solely me, Matt and God would learn about that.”