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Thursday, 8 October 2020

'He should drop out of the Senate race and face military justice': Husband of woman who had affair with North Carolina hopeful and reservist Cal Cunningham hits out - as Army launches investigation into him

 The husband of a woman who admitted to having an affair with Cal Cunningham has called on the North Carolina Democrat to drop out of the Senate race. 

Though the race in North Carolina is critical for both Democrats and Republicans, it has been thrown into turmoil over allegations of personal misconduct by Cunningham, a married man who had an extramarital relationship this summer with a consultant.

In a statement obtained by the News & Observer, Army veteran, Jeremy Todd, said: 'If elected, I can only imagine how misplaced his judgment would be for the people he's charged to represent. 

'I firmly believe Mr Cunningham should drop out of the Senate race and ask that his behavior and actions be reviewed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).'

Todd's wife, Arlene Guzman Todd admitted last week to being intimate with Cunningham. 

Cal Cunningham is pictured with his wife
Arlene Guzman Todd

Jeremy Todd, an Army veteran whose wife, Arlene Guzman Todd (right), admitted to having an affair with Cal Cunningham (left, with his wife) has called on the North Carolina Democrat to drop out of the Senate race

'I firmly believe Mr Cunningham should drop out of the Senate race and ask that his behavior and actions be reviewed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).' Todd's wife, Guzman Todd (pictured) admitted last week to being intimate with Cunningham

'I firmly believe Mr Cunningham should drop out of the Senate race and ask that his behavior and actions be reviewed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).' Todd's wife, Guzman Todd (pictured) admitted last week to being intimate with Cunningham

'Mr Cunningham chose to repeatedly engage in activities that would hurt his family and a fellow junior officer and veteran,' Todd said.  

Also on Wednesday, the US Army Reserve Command confirmed that it is investigating Cunningham, who is a lieutenant colonel in the Reserve.

'The Army Reserve is investigating the matters involving Lt Col James Cunningham. As such, we are unable to provide further details at this time,' the Army Reserve Command said in a statement to the News & Observer. 

Extramarital affairs violate the UCMJ. According to the newspaper, whether Cunningham could face charges under the code may depend upon whether he was on active duty at the time of the affair. 

Previously undisclosed text messages obtained by The Associated Press and additional interviews show that the relationship extended beyond suggestive texts, as was previously reported, to an intimate encounter as recent as July.


Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and the contest between Cunningham and Republican Sen Thom Tillis has been among the most watched in the country, with polls showing a tight race and both parties investing heavily in the outcome.

Cunningham's personal indiscretion offers a fresh test of whether voters will punish candidates for their private, consensual activity, and the answer they deliver could determine which party wields power in the Senate. 

The chamber has been a bulwark for Republicans under President Donald Trump, with Democrats in control of the House.

An Army Reserve lieutenant colonel with a wholesome appeal, Cunningham was widely viewed as the kind of recruit Democrats needed to make inroads in conservative-leaning Southern states like North Carolina.

Yet the text messages and interviews offer a glimpse that is at odds with the image of a devoted family man. 

Cunningham apologized late Friday for the text message exchanges in which he tells the woman he wants to kiss her and she says she wants to spend the night with him

Cunningham apologized late Friday for the text message exchanges in which he tells the woman he wants to kiss her and she says she wants to spend the night with him

Cunningham's (pictured on October 1) personal indiscretion offers a fresh test of whether voters will punish candidates for their private, consensual activity, and the answer they deliver could determine which party wields power in the Senate

Cunningham's (pictured on October 1) personal indiscretion offers a fresh test of whether voters will punish candidates for their private, consensual activity, and the answer they deliver could determine which party wields power in the Senate

A week ago, a conservative website, NationalFile.com, published text messages between Cunningham and Guzman Todd, a public relations strategist from California, that suggested a personal relationship.

The newly obtained texts, which are between Guzman Todd and a friend, provide a more specific timeline about their recent relationship, as well as details that describe intimate encounters - not simply a digital exchange.

The text messages were not obtained from Guzman Todd. But the AP contacted her to confirm their authenticity. 

In a series of interviews late Monday as well as in the text messages, Guzman Todd described two in-person encounters with Cunningham. One was in March in Los Angeles that she said did not include intimate contact, and a second was in July in North Carolina, where she said they were intimate.

In text messages to her friend, Guzman Todd said she was intimate with Cunningham in his home, which she later characterized as 'weird'.

In another exchange, Guzman Todd indicated that she was frustrated by the limited attention that he showed her.

'I'm just going to send to his opponent his naked photos,' Guzman Todd wrote. 'That will teach him.'

'You don't deserve me Cal,' she said in a separate text message to her friend. She added in another, 'He knows (that I) can tank his campaign.'

In a statement, Guzman Todd apologized for the 'pain and embarrassment, and disrespect I've caused to my immediate family, loved ones, and everyone affected by this situation'.

'A few months back, I displayed a lapse in judgment by engaging in a relationship with Cal Cunningham during a period of marital separation,' Guzman Todd said. 

'The relationship spanned several months and consisted primarily of a series of text exchanges and an in-person encounter.' She did not elaborate, but her text messages described the intimacy.

Cunningham's campaign declined to comment on the newly disclosed texts or on Guzman's statement.

The campaign instead pointed to a statement issued on Friday, shortly before they confirmed the authenticity of an initial round of texts that were made public between Cunningham and Guzman Todd.

'I have hurt my family, disappointed my friends, and am deeply sorry. 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,' Cunningham, who has two teenage children and has been married for two decades, said at the time.

Democratic control of the Senate will be vital if Democrat Joe Biden wins the presidency. 

Without it, he can be assured that the Republican majority will reject his plans to expand health care access, make significant investments in green energy and rewrite the tax code so that wealthy Americans shoulder more of the burden.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and the contest between Cunningham and Republican Sen Thom Tillis (pictured) has been among the most watched in the country, with polls showing a tight race and both parties investing heavily in the outcome

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and the contest between Cunningham and Republican Sen Thom Tillis (pictured) has been among the most watched in the country, with polls showing a tight race and both parties investing heavily in the outcome

Tillis has seized on the revelations, arguing that Cunningham 'owes the people of North Carolina a full explanation' for his extramarital activity. 'On the debate stage (pictured) last week Cal said it's about integrity -- and I agree,' Tillis said on Fox & Friends

Tillis has seized on the revelations, arguing that Cunningham 'owes the people of North Carolina a full explanation' for his extramarital activity. 'On the debate stage (pictured) last week Cal said it's about integrity -- and I agree,' Tillis said on Fox & Friends

But it's also unclear whether the revelation of an affair between two consenting adults is something North Carolina voters will care about, particularly after the state swung in 2016 for Trump, who has been married three times and paid hush money to a porn star to keep silent about an extramarital tryst.

Cunningham, 47, was a star recruit for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. He's been a fundraising powerhouse. He also checks important boxes: He's a veteran, a father, an officer in the Army Reserve, a lawyer and a former state senator.

In recent years, he worked for the environmental services company WasteZero. And he's had an aw-shucks style that matched effectively against Tillis and could be compelling to critical independent voters.

'He had this clean-cut image with a great story, a great background, an impeccable record of service,' said Brad Crone, a longtime state Democratic consultant. 'He was straight out of central casting.'

Tillis has seized on the revelations, arguing that Cunningham 'owes the people of North Carolina a full explanation' for his extramarital activity. 

But he may be ill positioned to force the issue after disclosing hours before the text messages were made public that he has contracted the coronavirus.

'On the debate stage last week Cal said it's about integrity - and I agree,' Tillis said on Fox & Friends.

Both candidates are now on the sidelines. Tillis is self-isolating at his home, and his Charlotte campaign office is closed for the rest of the week. 

Cunningham pulled out of a previously planned online forum on Monday with the Libertarian candidate in the race. His campaign gave no reason for his decision.

Despite the developments, some state Democrats sought to keep supporting Cunningham for the seat, saying he's still right on the issues important to the party faithful and the country.

'Cunningham had a critical lapse in judgement and morality. My prayers go out to his family as they work through healing,' tweeted North Carolina state Sen Erica Smith, who lost to Cunningham in the March Democratic primary. 

'I ask our supporters to unite around our platform and stand with Cal for NC.'

But Chris Cooper, a political science professor at Western Carolina University, said Trump's history isn't already baked into how people feel about Cunningham. 

Cooper said how much the revelations will damage Cunningham's campaign depends on whether additional details surfaced beyond the texts.

'It was a character-first campaign, and it was as much about who Cal Cunningham is than what Cal Cunningham stands for - and that's a harder sell today than it was last week,' Cooper said Tuesday.

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