MEMO: Cunningham Crumbling Due to Hypocrisy, Not Sex

To: Top Team Tillis Donor
Brad Todd, Senior Partner, OnMessage Inc., Media Consultant, Thom Tillis for Senate
October 8, 2020
Cunningham Crumbling Due to Hypocrisy, Not Sex

I don’t think I can ever remember saying the following – “The Charlotte Observer editorial board put it best.” However, after the bombshell reports that we have seen surface about Cal Cunningham’s lies, hypocrisy and misconduct during the last week, it’s hard to find a better analysis:

  • “There’s a concern that Cunningham — an Army reservist who talks regularly about honor, a husband who leverages his marriage as a campaign asset — may not be the person he says he is.” 

As the Charlotte Observer editorial board points out, Cal Cunningham’s recent scandal isn’t just about sex. In fact, it’s mostly about hypocrisy. It’s possible that some voters have become desensitized to sexual immorality from a politician, but what they undeniably still desire above all things is for their elected leaders to be genuine. As more and more developments in Cunningham’s scandal continue to be plastered on the front pages of North Carolina newspaperseach day, it’s clear that Cunningham has been anything but genuine and that the golden boy image that he has spent millions of dollars trying to portray over the course of this campaign is a total and complete fabrication. The real Cal Cunningham has been discovered, and voters don’t like being lied to.

Cunningham’s misconduct undermines his candidacy on four major fronts, and as we come down the home stretch of this election, North Carolinians need to know the details on all of them.


Reporting from the Associated Press and WRAL makes clear that Cunningham’s sexual affair with the woman in question occurred as late as July. Texts reported by the National File prove the relationship lasted as late as August. Cunningham’s willingness to engage in this type of reckless behavior during the final months of a campaign that will likely determine the outcome of the Senate majority shows he lacks the judgment necessary to be a U.S. Senator.


Cunningham has made his military service the central pillar of his campaign. He has cited it as why he thinks independent voters will support his candidacy. The advantages military service normally brings for a candidate, however, have been shattered in less than a week given he had an affair with the wife of a combat veteran who now has called on Cunningham to withdraw from the race. Cunningham’s investigation by the U.S. Army Reserves will likely drag out all the way until Election Day and he risks being “charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice” and “potentially military career-ending administrative actions.”


Over the course of his campaign, Cunningham has drawn criticism from the North Carolina press corps for ducking key questions. They’ve called him, “vague in his answers, even after repeated questions.” Cunningham is now approaching his scandal the same way. He has only made one “quasi-public statement” since his text messages were first reported on, has not yet acknowledged or specifically apologized for his confirmed sexual affair with Guzman Todd and has refused to deny reports that he had an affair with a second mistress. His only interview came when a reporter caught him by surprise in a parking lot, in which he denied to answer any questions. His response of “this campaign is not about my personal life” stands in stark contrast to the millions of dollars he has spent building up an image around his, you guessed it, personal life.


Cunningham has based his entire candidacy on duty, integrity, and honor, and has labeled himself in ads as a truth-teller. He’s consistently attacked Senator Tillis for not being a man of his word while pledging that he would be different. This scandal, however, shows Cunningham’s true colors. If his family, friends and staff cannot trust him, then why should North Carolinians? Every day, the Cunningham campaign reaches new heights of hypocrisy.


The US Senate race in North Carolina has been dramatically and permanently altered, not by sex, but by the hypocritical lack of judgment and truthfulness now fully on display by Cal Cunningham. This unfolding episode destroys the foundation of Cunningham’s campaign by demonstrating that he cannot be trusted at any level. The Tillis campaign has warned voters for months that Cunningham would say anything to get elected, and now, he’s willing to say nothingto get elected. That strategy will not save his flailing campaign, as the voters will see in the final month a clear juxtaposition between Cunningham as the hypocrite-in-hiding and Tillis as the Senator who is fighting for their jobs and futures.