On Sunday night, the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) — a nonprofit dedicated to defending America’s Judeo-Christian tradition — announced that it had rejected the resignation of its president, Ed Whelan, after he tendered his resignation for going public with an alternative theory about the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
On Thursday, Whelan had tweeted a long message suggesting that Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who accused Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her in 1982, could have mistaken Kavanaugh for another boy in high school. The other boy, now a man, then lived in a house that roughly matched Ford’s description of the house where sexual assault allegedly took place. He was also (and continues to be) friends with Mark Judge, who was Kavanaugh’s alleged accomplice.
Ed Whelan received a great deal of criticism because he named the man directly, including a high school and current picture of the man. Thus, the EPPC president implicated a man — who could be innocent — in very public sexual assault allegations. Whelan apologized for this and deleted the tweets.
The EPPC statement released on Sunday revealed that Whelan was so remorseful that he tendered his resignation the very next day.
“The board of the Ethics and Public Policy Center convened a special telephonic meeting on Friday, September 21, 2018,” the EPPC revealed in the statement. “After the meeting, Edward Whelan, who has led EPPC with integrity and excellence for many years, offered his resignation in light of what he described as an ‘appalling and inexcusable’ error in posting online a series of comments that he has now deleted and for which he promptly publicly apologized.”
“After deliberation, the board declined to accept Mr. Whelan’s resignation, but determined that he will take a leave of absence from the organization during which time Yuval Levin, EPPC’s Vice President and Hertog Fellow, will be in charge,” the EPPC announced. “The board will meet in a month to review the situation.”
This response seems wise. While Ed Whelan inexcusably involved this man in a highly tense sexual assault case, his theory seems quite plausible. Even in his original tweet storm, the EPPC president lamented the situation, expressing his desire that the entire case could be resolved privately.
He also insisted, “I therefore do not state, imply or insinuate that [man’s redacted name] or anyone else committed the sexual assault that Ford alleges.”
Ed Whelan stepped into the middle of a “he said, she said” situation, presenting a plausible alternative to Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations and Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s repeated categorical denials. Whelan’s story admitted that Ford may have been a victim while also defending Kavanaugh’s denials.
The EPPC made a wise move in giving Whelan a leave of absence, rather than immediately accepting his resignation. With more consideration, the right next steps may become clear.
Ironically, Ed Whelan seems not to have admitted the EPPC’s decision. He removed the EPPC affiliation from his Twitter account, which now describes him as a “blogger on NRO’s Bench Memos; recovering lawyer; Nats and Caps fan; co-editor of SCALIA SPEAKS.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.