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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
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