A top leader in the organization that puts on CPAC, the highly influential conference of conservative leaders, resigned on Tuesday night, citing financial mysteries surrounding the organization’s leader.
Bob Beauprez, the longtime treasurer of the American Conservative Union, said that he was not fully informed about money being paid for chairman Matt Schlapp’s legal defense against a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault. “I cannot deliver a financial report at the upcoming board meeting with any confidence in the accuracy of the numbers,” Beauprez wrote in a letter to the ACU’s board of directors.
In January, Carlton Huffman, a longtime Republican staffer, alleged that Schlapp, 55, groped him while they were campaigning together last fall for senate candidate Herschel Walker in Georgia. Huffman accused Schlapp of repeatedly grabbing his genitalia while he was driving the conservative activist back from a bar where Schlapp drank large quantities of vodka.
Schlapp, a former top Bush White House staffer who had established himself as a major lobbyist and conservative power broker in Trump’s Washington (his wife, Mercedes, served as a senior staffer in the Trump White House), denies the allegations. The resignation comes at a time of crisis for the group as Schlapp fends off the lawsuit and CPAC’s influence dwindles in the post-Trump era.
“The CPAC Executive Committee was briefed on these matters at the request of Bob Beauprez,” Ben Chew, Schlapp’s attorney said in a statement. “We do not discuss privileged and confidential attorney-client information with the press. Given the information we have unearthed in discovery, we are confident we will prevail in the litigation.”
Days after Huffman’s lawsuit was filed, Beauprez, a former Republican congressman, wrote that ACU’s executive committee fronted Schlapp $50,000 so he could immediately retain a lawyer. Schlapp hired Ben Chew, a prominent litigator who recently defended Johnny Depp in his lawsuit against Amber Heard. After some back-and-forth over who should pay future costs, Beauprez wrote he was blindsided when Schlapp told him that he had raised another $270,000 from donors to ACU and its related foundation, ACUF. His shock grew when he said ACU’s lawyer told him in February at CPAC that the money “was already either dispersed [sic] or invoiced.”
“I have to admit that I feel like I’m in the dark,” Beauprez told the board. “I have received no further information about what additional costs have accrued since then … I assume any monies paid are either coming from Matt personally or from ACU/F. But, again, I don’t know, and it is most unsettling.”
During a March board meeting, Beauprez said “there was no mention of the case, no status update, no summary of expenditures to date, no word regarding acceptance of coverage from either our D&O [directors and officers] insurance company, or Matt’s personal liability carrier, no opportunity to ask questions, etc., etc. I thought this was not only inappropriate, but unconscionable. All of us as directors not only have a right, but a fiduciary obligation to be made aware of what, how, and why monies are being spent, especially involving a corporation insider such as the chairman. The case is now nearly five months old, and the full board has never been fully briefed.”
“However great our sympathy,” Beauprez continued, “we cannot avoid our fiduciary responsibilities. A few of us have sought answers to some of what seem to be obvious and necessary questions. As a result, we have been accused of ‘not having Matt’s back’ and ‘trying to stage a leadership coup.’”
The frustration led directly to Beauprez’s resignation, given he is “no longer able to in good faith advocate to donors.” The treasurer compared his role to “that of a mushroom — ‘to be kept in the dark and fed a lot of manure,’” he wrote. “I no longer am willing to comply.”
The resignation was particularly notable because Beauprez and Schlapp were personal friends, according to Ross Hemminger, a former member of ACU’s communications staff. “Everyone on the board is a fairly close friend of Matt’s, sort of by design,” Hemminger said.
Beauprez also said ACU was not abiding by a number of its bylaws and could face serious legal jeopardy. He wrote that board members were being paid by the organization without a vote or the approval of the full board. He accused Schlapp of exercising total control of when the board could meet, against its own rules.
“Any rogue DA could target ACU/F and invent charges. What concerns me is that in some cases, our operating procedures are in direct conflict with our own bylaws. Thus, we’re feeding red meat to the lions!”
Beauprez also detailed discrepancies in the accounts of both organizations in the aftermath of the ACU’s finance director’s resignation in March. Instead of using a certified public accountant, Beauprez said that Frank Sadler, a Republican operative with ties to Schlapp was brought in to handle the books. The result was what Beauprez describes as “glaring irreconcilable, unexplained differences” in the work done by Sadler.
He also said Schlapp refused to give any specific information about the finances of the 2023 CPAC conference held in March. “Matt always responds in much the same way, ‘It looks like we made about $500,000, maybe more.’ I hope that’s roughly accurate, but I’d like to also see the financial data upon which Matt has reached this conclusion.”
After Beauprez’s letter, Schlapp emailed the board to reassure them “that this organization is being run with integrity. The good news is we are cleaning up a lot of issues and we will give everyone an update at our board mtg. We made money on CPAC in DC and CPAC Hungary and we are cash flowing nicely.” He also warned against “inappropriate leaks” and urged recipients not to directly reply to the email but to call him personally instead.
One board member seemed to imply that Beauprez’s letter contained factual errors. “I am concerned a former board member cannot accurately recall meeting outcomes or involvement in privileged board discussions,” said Matt Smith in an email. (Beauprez did not respond to a request for comment.)
In his view, the ACU is rotten throughout.
“New hires always come in with the highest regard, but when they leave whether by choice or get fired, they are disparaged and have suddenly become useless human refuse,” Beauprez wrote, adding that employees “have succumbed to professional therapists and prescription drugs.”
“A cancer has been metastasizing within the organization for years,” he concluded his letter. “It must be diagnosed, treated, and cured, or it will destroy ACU/F. You simply cannot survive like this.”