When a group of employees resigned in protest from conservative activist group CPAC last year, the organization’s power couple—Matt Schlapp and his wife, Mercedes—felt it was time for a new beginning.
As part of the reset, the Schlapps turned to a priest to evict satanic spirits from the D.C. offices, according to multiple people with knowledge of the exorcisms.
And so, on an afternoon in spring 2022, CPAC employees at their offices in Alexandria, Virginia—about eight miles from the fabled staircase featured in the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist—found themselves suddenly in the presence of a Catholic priest. The priest, sources said, sprinkled holy water around the CPAC premises and blessed all the staff, regardless of their faith. As part of the rite, according to these people, the priest placed a medallion above doors in the offices and explained that it would help ward off evil spirits.
The reason for the exorcism? A raft of junior employees had just walked away from their jobs en masse, after the organization denied their repeated requests for higher pay, according to multiple people with knowledge of the events.
But while the employees have been gone for over a year now, the talismans are still there. The Daily Beast obtained photos of one of them, which shows it is “St. Benedict’s Medal,” with St. Benedict being the patron saint of exorcisms.
According to the St. Benedict Center, “The medal is a prayer of exorcism against Satan, a prayer for strength in time of temptation, a prayer for peace among ourselves and among the nations of the world,” and “a prayer of firm rejection of all that is evil.”
It’s not just anonymous sources who make this claim. CPAC general counsel David Safavian—also a devout Catholic—publicly acknowledged an in-office exorcism earlier this year, under circumstances similar to the 2022 event described to The Daily Beast.
“Now that we’ve performed an exorcism on a recently vacated office, I’m enjoying my new private cigar lounge,” Safavian posted on May 23, referring to a specific office of an employee who had just departed at the time. “Beats the heck out of the corner of the garage where I could get cell service!” (Tweet archived here.)
“It’s a miracle he wasn’t sued for defamation over that one,” one source told The Daily Beast.
Another source described the 2022 event as “the weirdest thing I’d seen,” and yet another said, “I had no idea what was going on.”
Multiple sources with knowledge of the event said the rite included a prayer circle in Schlapp’s office, which one person described as performative and inauthentic. “Like a show,” this source said.
“As the priest made his way through the office, spritzing holy water room to room, employees nudged him towards Matt’s office,” this person said. “The way he had treated junior employees, it seemed to us like he was the one who needed it the most.”
Schlapp—who stands accused of making unwanted physical advances on three men in recent years, one of whom is suing him for sexual battery and, along with his wife, defamation—is former co-chair for “Catholics for Trump.”
CPAC did not reply to a request for comment, but Schlapp provided a statement through his publicist, Mark Corallo.
“CPAC is being terrorized by a demon self-described as The Daily Beast,” the statement, attributed to Matt Schlapp, said. “The good news is the leadership of CPAC knows how the epic battle against the Beast ends. I’d short the stock.”
Mercedes Schlapp also tried to get ahead of the story, posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “Satan’s publication” is wasting its time among other crises.
“Americans are dying of fentanyl, children are being sex trafficked, and violent crimes are happening in our cities while Satan’s publication is writing about exorcisms. Daily Beast is a joke,” Mercedes Schlapp wrote.
On Tuesday—in response to The Daily Beast’s reporting that Schlapp tried unsuccessfully to settle the lawsuit earlier this year, and now faced two new accusations—both Schlapps alleged that The Daily Beast was run by the devil.
“The Daily Beast is Satan’s publication to persecute Christians and their families,” Mercedes Schlapp tweeted.
“Soon to start a weekend edition: the Saturday Satan,” her husband added, despite the publication already self-identifying as “daily.”
Four people with knowledge of the exorcism told The Daily Beast that just prior to the event, CPAC junior staff had resigned to Schlapp personally, after he repeatedly rejected their calls for higher compensation amid increasingly demanding work conditions.
“Everyone disrespects what the Schlapps did to them. They left because they couldn’t get money,” one of the people told The Daily Beast. “Matt has said, ‘everyone is disposable,’ and says that they can always find someone else to do the job for that much.”