‘Where there’s smoke’: Thom Tillis Senate challenger cancels town hall after extramarital affair allegations grow


North Carolina Senate candidate Cal Cunningham abruptly canceled a town hall with voters after accusations surfaced of an alleged extramarital affair days after reports of a sex scandal involving the Democrat.

Cunningham, who is running to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis in North Carolina, admitted to sending sexual text messages to a California public relations strategist even though he is married. The campaign for the Democratic Senate hopeful announced that he had no plans to drop out of the race after the bombshell on Friday and on Monday, new allegations of a second extramarital encounter emerged.

A woman named Erin Brinkman claimed in a Facebook post that her friend, who was also in a relationship with Cunningham, was “devastated” to hear of the reports on Friday about the text messages and affair he has having with Arlene Guzman Todd, the California-based public relations strategist.

“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, a North Carolina-based lawyer, wrote, according to the National File.

A LinkedIn profile that may be Brinkman’s indicated that she is a former staffer for Cunningham’s previous Senate bid.

Cunningham, a married father of two, cancelled a townhall scheduled on Monday following the second revelation.

In the reports that came out on Friday, messages showed that Cunningham and Todd were hoping to “kiss a lot,” and “ditch a staffer” during a campaign event.

“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,” Cunningham said after the scandal broke.

“While we were surprised to read the news about Cal Cunningham in the News and Observer last night, our campaign is focused on the health of Sen. Tillis and our staff,” Tillis spokesman Andrew Romeo said in a statement Saturday after the lawmaker reported a positive coronavirus diagnosis the night before.

“As we adapt our campaign in light of the senator’s positive test, all questions on Cunningham should be directed to his campaign,” Romeo added as the Tillis campaign closed down its headquarters and the senator went into quarantine.

Monday’s claim by Brinkman about another Cunningham affair brought a new set of challenges for the Democrat who is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve. Cunningham is married to a veteran as well and could risk a court martial as an extramarital affair would be a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Sen. Tillis weighed in on his challenger’s latest personal scandals during an appearance on Fox News Tuesday.

“Cal’s trying to finesse it as an errant text but we now have a second report and I think Cal owes the people of North Carolina a full explanation,” the GOP lawmaker said on “Fox & Friends.”


(Source: Fox News via Thom Tillis)

“On the debate stage last week, Cal said it’s about integrity and I agree,” Tillis added, noting his rival’s teenage children and the need to protect his family’s privacy.

A spokeswoman for Cunningham confirmed that Monday’s town hall was cancelled.

“He’s unable to attend today but looks forward to continue to work to earn the opportunity to fight for North Carolinians,” the spokeswoman said.

“North Carolinians are supporting Cal because he will protect health care coverage for pre-existing conditions, fight to bring down the costs of prescription drugs, and help our country recover from this crisis. We are confident that he will bring the same courage and determination to the Senate as he has while serving our country in uniform,” Lauren Passalacqua, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement on Saturday.

“These are very troubling allegations, and Cal needs to be fully transparent with the voters of North Carolina,”  Jesse Hunt, a spokesperson for the Senate Republican campaign arm, said. “We know there is more to this story, Cal knows there is more to this story, and he needs to come clean with voters so they can make the appropriate judgment on whether he’s fit for office.”

 

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.

Frieda Powers

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