After Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham admitted last week that he sent sexually explicit text messages to a woman who isn’t his wife, a North Carolina-based lawyer came forward and accused Cunningham of having an affair with a second mistress.
Lawyer Erin Brinkman said on Facebook this week that her friend had been having an affair with Cunningham, a father of two, since 2012.
She was “devastated” to learn that Cunningham had been cheating not only on his wife, but on her as well, Brinkman said.
“He’s been having an affair with a good friend of mine since 2012. Not the woman mentioned in the story. Needless to say, my friend was devastated. But my feeling is, if they’ll cheat WITH you, they’ll cheat ON you!,” Brinkman wrote on Facebook, according to National File.
Cunningham was caught sexting with Arlene Guzman Todd, a California public relations strategist who is also the wife of an army veteran.
The text messages revealed that the two planned to meet at some point in the fall, but it is not clear whether they ended up getting “away for a night soon.”
“The longer we wait the crazier fall schedules will get,” Todd said. “In the spirit of ‘I like what I like’ quote on your adorable video, I operate under the ‘I want what I want’…approach and I want a night with you.”
“Sounds wonderful — I want that too!!! Very badly,” Cunningham responded.
Cunningham apologized, but said he will not drop out of the close race against incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis.
“I have hurt my family, disappointed my friends, and am deeply sorry,” he said. “The first step in repairing those relationships is taking complete responsibility, which I do. I ask that my family’s privacy be respected in this personal matter.”
“I remain grateful and humbled by the ongoing support that North Carolinians have extended in this campaign, and in the remaining weeks before this election I will continue to work to earn the opportunity to fight for the people of our state,” he continued.
Since then, Cunningham has gone silent, dropping out of a scheduled Facebook town hall on Monday without explanation.
He has also refused to answer reporters’ questions about his extramarital affair.
Tillis said that Cunningham owes North Carolinians an explanation, especially since there are serious consequences that accompany his affair. Since Cunningham served in the military, he could be held responsible under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“It is clear that adultery is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It is not clear whether sexting has something to do with a criminal infraction under the code. Perhaps it is conduct unbecoming an officer. I don’t know,” attorney Mark Sullivan, a retired Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer, told WRAL.
At the very least, Cunningham’s conduct could “make it impossible for him or her to be promoted,” or it could “result in a prompt retirement,” Sullivan added.
“He is an officer in the military,” Tillis argued. “He’s also subject to disciplinary action just on the basis of what he’s admitted to.”
Democrats have continued to voice support for Cunningham, and have said that they will focus on policy instead of the candidate’s private life — although their statements came out before the news of the possible second mistress.
“The polls I’ve seen show that Medicaid expansion is the No. 1, health care is the No. 1 issue in North Carolina, and that’s what we’re going to talk about for the next month,” said Rep. Darren Jackson, D-N.C.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has also said that it stands by its endorsement of Cunningham and will continue to run ads for him.
“We are confident that he will bring the same courage and determination to the Senate as he has while serving our country in uniform,” said Lauren Passalacqua, DSCC communication director.
Tillis, however, said Cunningham ought to be prepared to answer to the voters.
“Cal is trying to finesse it as an errant text, but we now have a second report,” Tillis told Fox News on Tuesday. “Cal owes the people of North Carolina a full explanation. On the debate stage last week, Cal said it’s about integrity and I agree. His family should be kept private — he’s got teenage children — but Cal owes North Carolinians, all of the voters a full and thorough explanation.”