Late Friday night, Cal Cunningham admitted to at least sexting the wife of an enlisted service member almost immediately, drawing comparisons with the notorious John Edwards sex scandals. Cunningham has made his military service the centerpiece of his campaign, and now because of actions, it may be possible that he violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
"We know this sexual texting scandal is likely the tip of an iceberg of shady conduct, which explains why Cal Cunningham has remained locked in his windowless basement, hiding from reporters, and shunning North Carolinians for this entire campaign,"
said NCGOP Press Secretary Tim Wigginton. "If Cunningham cannot be faithful to his wife, why should North Carolinians put their faith in him? North Carolina does not need another John Edwards."
Check out this excerpt from the News and Observer:
Cunningham's current response still leaves numerous question unanswered:
- Cunningham, 47, is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. According to service records provided to McClatchy by the Army, Cunningham is assigned to the 134th Legal Operations Detachment at Fort Bragg for the U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command.
- He currently serves in the Judge Advocate General Corps and has been a member of the Army Reserve since November 2002.
- Extramarital affairs are a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Whether Cunningham could face charges under the UCMJ may depend upon whether he was on active duty at the time the extramarital activity took place.
- According to the Reserve Officers Association, in most situations "you are only subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) when on active duty."
- "If these messages were not sent when he was in duty status they are not punishable under the UCMJ," said Eugene R. Fidell, a former U.S. Coast Guard judge advocate and current adjunct professor at NYU Law School. "Based on what we currently know, this is not a UCMJ matter."
- Given Cunningham's rank as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves and his mistress's status as the wife of an Army veteran, could Cunningham face court martial for violating Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice once more details come out?
- Cunningham admitted to the sexting as recently as July and alluded to knowing his mistress for years. Did a sexual, physical relationship also occur? If so, when did it begin and when was the last time they saw each other?
- Were any campaign resources from Cunningham's lieutenant governor or U.S. Senate campaigns — including fundraising travel or "meetings" — used to facilitate the affair?
- Cunningham recently invited cameras into his home for a sit-down interview with himself and his wife and has made "duty" and "honor" central to his candidacy. Were all those intentional, calculated efforts to distract from his personal misconduct?
- Contact: Tim Wigginton