On the heels of the annual CPAC event, the former Herschel Walker staffer that accused CEO Matt Schlapp of groping him is coming forward about his allegations, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Walker and his campaign have been supportive of Carlton Huffman throughout the course of the ordeal, previous reports indicated. But now, Mr. Huffman, a staple in North Carolina GOP politics, is being forced to release his name publicly by the judge overseeing his lawsuit. Huffman is suing both Schlapps for $9.4 million in damages for sexual battery and defamation.
“I’m not backing away,” Huffman told the Post. “I’m not going to drop this. Matt Schlapp did what he did, and he needs to be held accountable.”
Schlapp denies the claims that he groped Huffman's crotch and invited him to his hotel room during an Oct. 2020 trip to Atlanta. Schlapp's lawyer claimed that Huffman wanted to remain anonymous to avoid scrutiny, including allegations that he had extremist views on a white supremacist website more than ten years ago.
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“I strongly believe we cannot defend this case — and it’s a multimillion-dollar case — without being able to use his name,” said Schlapp lawyer Benjamin Chew.
Since the allegations, there has been a "heavy staff turnover" at the organization, and CPAC failed to garner the support among Republican officials it had in the past. The crowd to the event was significantly smaller than in recent years, even with former President Donald Trump as the keynote speaker.
Now that Huffman has become public, he shared with The Post text messages, phone logs and videos that match the allegations.
"Six family members and friends and three Walker campaign officials confirmed to The Post that Huffman told them about the alleged incident that night or the next day," the report said.
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Still, Huffman is under attack for his racist writings in the past that celebrated the Confederate flag and attacked people of color and immigrants for violent crimes. He wrote that he wants to preserve "the European American culture of the United States."
“That was an ugly chapter of my life that I am personally ashamed of,” Huffman said. “That is not who I am anymore.”
Regardless of the past racist views, however, the accusations don't involve Huffman lying about being sexually assaulted by anyone. It merely reveals that a man who admits to being a former racist is accusing a top Republican leader of groping him.
Schlapp ally, former Trump fundraiser Caroline Wren, attacked Huffman on Twitter, saying he's the source for several attacks on conservatives, like former Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), who lost his seat in a GOP primary.
Meanwhile, the American Conservative Union, parent company to CPAC, released a statement claiming Huffman was working with liberals to try and "cancel those with whom they disagree." Huffman has been among those Republicans to denounce the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) has come to Huffman's aide, saying he's well known in GOP North Carolina circles, "as a hardworking campaign professional who has helped elect conservatives across our state and country."
The story from Huffman is that the incident began when he was asked to drive a "VIP" coming to Georgia.
"This account of what Huffman says happened next is based on multiple interviews with him, his confidants and Walker campaign officials, as well as phone logs, texts and social media reviewed by The Post," said the report. "Some people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private matters or because of a fear of retaliation. In court filings, Schlapp admits texting and calling Huffman and spending time with him at two bars but denied the rest of Huffman’s claims.'
Huffman said he picked up Schlapp at an event in Perry, Georgia, and drove him to an Atlanta hotel. Schlapp asked if he wanted to meet for a drink at the Capital Grille. Huffman recalls going there at 8:30 p.m.
“I found a seat at the bar to watch the ball game,” Huffman said.
They talked about sports and Schlapp said they should move to Manuel's Tavern. Huffman says that's where Schlap's leg made what felt like intentional contact with his. Schlapp also bumped his side, where Huffman said he was carrying his pistol under his jacket. He tried to take Schlapp back to his hotel as the CPAC chief suggested they drink more. When driving him back, that's when Schlapp put his hand on Huffman's leg.
“What do I say to this guy?” Huffman said he worried. “Or is he going to get pissed and say something bad about me because he’s Matt Schlapp and I am John Q staffer for Herschel Walker?”
Before getting out of the car, that's when Schalpp rubbed Huffman's genitals and invited him upstairs to his room. He began texting friends about it immately after, with the first text appearing at 11:26 p.m.
“Matt Schlapp … He literally just fondled my junk … Like I’m Over here shaking ... Idk what to do," he texted.
When he got home he called a close friend and decided to record a statement to document what happened. A seven-minute video shows him "visibly anguished," The Post characterized. He described what happened and sent it to a friend from college, speaking to him and his wife a few minutes later.
“You can’t make up the emotion he recorded in the video — the way he reacted and the shame he felt,” the friend's wife told The Post. “He knows that I was the victim of a sexual assault, and he would never make something like that up.”
he also shared the incident with three Walker campaign officials and they met to discuss what to do. The asked if he should talk to police, a lawyer or even a therapist, but Huffman was worried about disrupting the campaign in the final weeks of the 2022 election.
“None of us had any reason to believe that he would make this story up,” said one staffer in the discussion. “We believed him then, and we believe him now. ... We were going to have his back.”
Schlapp texted Huffman he was in the lobby of the hotel, and Huffman replied at 7:46 a.m.
“I did want to say I was uncomfortable with what happened last night,” he wrote.
“Pls give me a call Thx,” Schlapp replied immediately. He then called Huffman three times. Twice at 7:53 a.m. and a third time at 8:09 a.m.
The Post reported that at 12:12 p.m., Schlapp sent his final text: “Carlton If you could see it in your heart to call me at end of day. I would appreciate it,” he wrote. “If not I wish you luck on the campaign and hope you keep up the good work.”
Once the election was over and Walker lost, Huffman tweeted: “Don’t let @mschlapp get too many vodkas in him. It doesn’t end well,” but he later deleted it. Huffman then tweeted to Schlapp, “you know exactly what you did," but deleted that too, saying that it would lead to "all hell break[ing] lose before Christmas."
Schlapp and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) made fun of their mutual incidents during the 2023 CPAC, as well as allegations that while serving as a wresting coach, Jordan knew about and dismissed students' concerns after a doctor fondled them at Ohio State University.