Cal Cunningham now facing FEC complaint in addition to military investigations

Army Reserves and the Dept. of Defense Inspector General are also investigating Cunningham

FILE - Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham speaks during a televised debate with U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in Raleigh, N.C. Cunningham has admitted to sending sexual text messages to a California strategist who is not his wife. Cunningham apologized but said he would not drop out of the race in a statement to multiple news outlets late Friday. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, Pool, file)

RALEIGH —Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham’s affair with the wife of a fellow military officer is now being looked at for possible campaign violations in a complaint filed this week with the Federal Elections Commission.

Americans For Public Trust, a nonprofit, nonpartisan government watchdog group, filed the complaint which asks the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to “conduct an immediate and complete audit of his campaign spending.”

At the heart of the complaint are the travel expenses logged by Cunningham’s campaign to California in early March of this year. The date of the travel potentially corresponds to allegations of a sexual encounter in Los Angeles made by Arlene Guzman Todd, the woman Cunningham has admitted to sexting with and also had a physical affair with.

On Oct. 2, Cunningham confirmed reports from the website NationalFile.com of sexual text messages between himself and a California public relations consultant, Arlene Guzman Todd.

Todd made reference in a text message that a second sexual encounter occurred in North Carolina in July. In the text message, Todd told a friend that having sex in another woman’s house was “weird.”

By Oct. 5, there were allegations of a second affair that have not yet been confirmed but Cunningham had begun canceling events.

Despite calls to “come clean” by both the Charlotte Observer and Sen. Thom Tillis’ campaign, Cunningham has refused to answer questions about the affair. He has also dodged questions as to whether or not there are other possible affairs or more women. In a Zoom call with North Carolina media outlets last week, Cunningham was asked the question about more affairs four different times and he refused to answer them.

Arlene Guzman Todd’s husband has called for Cunningham to drop out of the race.

“I can only imagine how misplaced his judgment would be for the people he’s charged to represent,” said Jeremy Todd in a statement to the Raleigh News and Observer. ” 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.”

Todd served over 19 years in the army who several years ago sustained severe injuries to his spine during a paratrooper proficiency jump.

On Oct. 7, the Army Reserve confirmed it was formally investigating “Lt. Col. James Cunningham.”

In addition to the Army Reserve investigation, the Department of Defense’s Inspector General (DDIG) has been asked to start a formal inquiry into Cunningham’s extramarital affair. The complaint sent to the DDIG which 0utlines Cunningham’s sexting and the affair was filed by “Jason G. Davis” of North Carolina.

“At a minimum, I would suspect any investigation would conclude a clear violation of Article 133: Conduct unbecoming an officer,” the complaint to the DDIG reads.

North Carolina Republican Party chairman Michael Whatley hosted a press conference about the multiple investigations lodged against Cunningham on Oct. 14. Whatley was joined by Sgt. Josh Feeback, United States Army, Ret. and Sean Kilbane, United States Army Veteran.

Whatley said that while Sen. Tillis is at work at the Supreme Court Nomination hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, “Cal Cunningham is hiding in his basement” and is “refusing to answer questions” about his extramarital affair and the investigations into his conduct opened by both the U.S. Army Reserve and the DDIG.

“These are very serious allegations and it’s very concerning,” said Whatley.

Kilbane harshly criticized Cunningham for engaging in an affair with the wife of r a fellow veteran. He also noted that Cunningham has failed to answer questions about other potential affair and “other women.”

“I am disgusted at his behavior and how he has responded to it,” said Kilbane. “The people of North Carolina expect better from a United States Senator.”

Kilbane also asked that if Cunningham was “willing to risk his candidacy” to have an affair with another veteran’s wife then “what kind of self-serving behavior are we to expect out of him if he were to go to Washington, D.C.?”

Feeback said that when he heard the news, he, like Kilbane, hoped the story of Cunningham’s affair wasn’t true. He said it was “very upsetting” when it turned out to be true.

About A.P. Dillon 294 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_