Ed Whelan takes 'leave of absence' from ethics group after bizarre Kavanaugh theory

The conservative lawyer and commentator who concocted a theory that Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser confused him with someone else at a high school party is taking a leave from his role as president of an “ethics and public policy” Washington think tank.

In a series of tweets Thursday, Ed Whelan presented a bizarre theory on Twitter that accuser Christine Blasey Ford was not sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh when the two were high school students, as she alleged. Instead, he suggested she may have been attacked by a classmate of Kavanaugh’s who looked very much like him. Whelan named the man and posted a photo of him in his tweet thread.

Realizing too late that he had linked the man to a crime, he apologized profusely on Friday, calling it an “appalling and inexcusable mistake of judgment,” and deleted the tweets.

Whelan, a friend of Kavanaugh’s, offered to resign from the Ethics and Public Policy Center during a “telephonic meeting” Friday, according to a statement from the organization’s board.

The board refused to accept his resignation, and Whelan is instead taking a leave of absence. But the board will “meet in a month to review the situation,” according to its statement.

“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,” said the board’s statement.

After deliberation, the board “declined to accept Mr. Whelan’s resignation, but determined that he will take a leave of absence.”

After Whelan posted his theory, Blasey told The Washington Post that she knew both Kavanaugh and the man Whelan named when they were teenagers, and “socialized with them. There is zero chance that I would confuse them,” she added.

A Wall Street Journal editorial last week also mentioned the possibility of mistaken identity in Blasey’s accusation, though it didn’t name anyone. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who believes Kavanaugh’s denial that an attack took place, also said: “Cleary, somebody’s mixed up.”

Whelan, who has advised on Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, is friends with Leonard Leo, the president of the Federalist Society, which has played a key role in developing conservative judicial nominations, including Kavanaugh’s.

Blasey is planning to testify about her encounter with Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.