Matt Schlapp, the prominent Trump ally who leads the influential Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), was accused this week of mismanaging money and staff in a scathing resignation letter from the parent organization’s treasurer.
“A cancer has been metastasizing within the organization for years. It must be diagnosed, treated, and cured, or it will destroy” the organization and its foundation, Beauprez said in the letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post. “I’ve come to think that the expectations for my role as a director and officer is much the same as that of a mushroom — ‘To be kept in the dark and fed a lot of manure.’ I no longer am willing to comply.”
The 13-page letter, delivered Tuesday ahead of a scheduled June 1 board meeting, escalates the internal and public pressure on Schlapp, who as ACU chairman since 2014, has become a fixture in conservative media. But his leadership is facing multiple challenges amid corporate backlash over CPAC’s embrace of the far right in the United States and abroad, as well as reduced turnout at its flagship Washington-area conference in March. Schlapp called the event a “home run.”
Schlapp and his wife, Mercedes, a senior fellow at the foundation and a former senior official in the Trump White House, are also fighting a defamation and battery lawsuit from a former Republican campaign aide who alleged that Schlapp groped him last fall during a visit to the Atlanta area. Schlapp, 55, has denied the aide’s account and attacked his credibility.
Schlapp on Thursday broadly denied the allegations in the letter, characterizing them in a response posted to Twitter as the “routine internal complaints of disgruntled employees.”
“The claims contained in the original email are out of context or are in error,” Schlapp said. “I’ve experienced a political assassination attempt on every part of my character and integrity for the past five months. I’m disgusted that I need to respond to the Post about internal deliberations of CPAC — an organization that’s grown five-fold under my leadership.”
Beauprez did not respond to a message from The Post.
In his letter, Beauprez said he accepted Schlapp’s denial of any inappropriate conduct involving the aide, but he also argued that the board has a duty to protect the organization from potentially significant damages and has never been “fully briefed” on the lawsuit. He said the board agreed to advance $50,000 for Schlapp’s attorney, Ben Chew, who previously represented actor Johnny Depp, but Beauprez said he was concerned that the fees had spiraled to more than $270,000. That amount has been raised from private donors, he said.
Chew said in an email that the executive committee was briefed on the lawsuit at Beauprez’s request. “Given the information we have unearthed in discovery, we are confident we will prevail in the litigation,” he added.
Another former CPAC employee has notified the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of plans to sue over claims that she was fired in retaliation for complaining about a co-worker’s sexist and racist comments. Beauprez said the board has not been formally briefed on that case either.
“A few of us have sought answers to some of what seem to be obvious and necessary questions,” Beauprez said. “As a result, we have been accused of ‘not having Matt’s back’ and ‘trying to stage a leadership coup.’”
Concerns about Schlapp’s leadership also fueled the recent resignation of the treasurer of the American Conservative Union Foundation, Randy Neugebauer, according to several people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. Neugebauer did not respond to a request for comment from The Post.
Beauprez, a former Republican congressman from Colorado, detailed other wide-ranging complaints that he said date back to 2020. He said that since the organization’s chief financial officer left in March, the bookkeeping was taken over by a longtime business associate of Schlapp’s who provided financial documents with unexplained discrepancies. Beauprez also said he was concerned about payment obligations that were “a far greater amount than I ever recall,” and he said Schlapp was not able to specify how much money the organization made on the CPAC event in March.
The Post reported in February that more than half of the organization’s staff has left since 2021. Beauprez said Schlapp established a pattern of maligning people who leave, even when he was responsible for hiring and promoting them. Several staff members were driven to therapy and medication in a stressed-out workplace with “major deficiencies” in management, Beauprez said.
One employee became so distressed that she left a group dinner and was found by co-workers wandering aimlessly in the streets, according to the letter. Multiple people who were present for that incident confirmed the account to The Post.
“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 said. “To ignore and deny the reality is dishonest.”
Beauprez’s letter also detailed several instances in which he alleged that the organization failed to follow its bylaws. Specifically, he said, the board’s executive committee approved Schlapp’s salary but neither the committee nor the board ever saw a formal contract, as required by the bylaws. Schlapp, whose chairman position is traditionally unpaid, started receiving annual compensation of $600,000 in mid-2022 as his lobbying income declined, according to public records and people familiar with the organization’s finances.
Beauprez also alleged that the board never approved a resolution authorizing officers to sign checks as required by the bylaws.
“Any rogue DA could target ACU/F and invent charges,” Beauprez said, using an abbreviation for the American Conservative Union and its foundation arm. Beauprez pointed to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s recent indictment against former president Donald Trump and the New York attorney general’s lawsuit against the National Rifle Association, alleging mismanagement of the powerful gun lobby’s funds.
Beauprez added, “Problems of ‘self-dealing’ such as this would be all too attractive of a target.”