- While much of the focus has been on U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham’s failures as a husband, his failures as a leader are more important from a public policy perspective
- Despite Cunningham knowing that an Army veteran junior officer was acting suicidal, there is no evidence indicating that he did anything to help that officer
- Evidence indicates that Cunningham violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice
By now most people are aware of Cal Cunningham’s July tryst with Arlene Guzman Todd in the Cunningham home while his family was away.
Cunningham’s senate campaign has tried to frame it as just a personal matter, quoting the candidate saying that he “hurt my family, disappointed my friends.” He has also refused to answer media questions about possible serial affairs.
While Cunningham’s failures as a husband, as a father, and as a lover are a concern, of greater concern are his failures as a leader and an officer holding a position of authority and trust, especially since Cunningham has made his military experience the centerpiece of his campaign.
A failure to protect a veteran junior officer from harm
Guzman Todd is the wife of Jeremy Todd, an Army veteran junior officer.
In a series of texts with a friend (which have been verified by the Associated Press), Guzman Todd not only confirmed having sex with Cunningham but also that Cunningham knew that Todd was under emotional duress and acting in a manner that indicated an intent to self-harm.
Among other related texts to her friend, Arlene Guzman Todd wrote that Jeremy Todd “was all suicidal and sh*t a couple of nights ago,” “Had a gun out,” and made “like desperate calls for attention.” She added, “I could not be bothered.”
She also made it clear that she had also informed Cunningham about her husband’s situation by what she shared with her friend, saying that Cunningham told her “You’re going to be the best therapist ever at this rate” due to the situation:
So, we have evidence that Cunningham was aware that an Army veteran junior officer was hurting and that he was exhibiting suicidal behavior. What we do not have is any evidence that Cunningham did anything to help Jeremy Todd despite U.S Army guidance on suicide prevention.
The incident has given Jeremy Todd an insight into Cunningham’s character saying that Cunningham (Fox News):
…chose to repeatedly engage in activities that would hurt his family and a fellow junior officer and veteran… 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.
A failure to adhere to the law he swore to uphold
Todd’s call for Cunningham’s actions to be reviewed by military officials may happen soon. The available evidence indicates that Cunningham has failed to uphold the Uniform Code of Military Justice, despite swearing to “faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter” when he accepted his commission in the Army.
Because of the impact of adultery, or “extra-marital sexual conduct,” on readiness and morale, the military takes those charges seriously:
It’s not difficult to imagine the negative impact adultery could have on morale or mission accomplishment if a commanding officer was found to be sleeping with the spouse of one of his Soldiers, or if a deployed service member was constantly distracted by the fear that their spouse would be hit on by service members back home.
Two of the more infamous recent cases include:
- Jeffrey Sinclair, who was demoted two ranks and forced to retire at a lower pay grade for an “illegal three-year affair with a junior female officer and engaging in inappropriate relationships with two others.”
- Jason A. Scott, who plead guilty to having an affair with the wife of a sergeant who was deployed to Afghanistan and who joked about her husband being killed in action.
The U.S. Army Reserve is investigating Cunningham for possible violation of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The maximum penalty for violating Article 134 of the UCMJ includes “Dishonorable Discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for one year.”
A general rule of political crises is that you seek to get them behind you as quickly as possible. There has already been a report of Cunningham violating his marriage with a second mistress and he repeatedly refused to answer questions from reporters about how many affairs he has had:
But reporters put a question to Cunningham four times about whether he was involved with any other women, and he refused to answer directly every time.
(To my knowledge, no reporter has asked if he has had affairs with other military spouses or with members of the military, which would possibly be further violations of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.)
It appears that Cunningham has decided that telling the whole truth about his alleged violations of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice would be worse for him than letting the political crisis linger. However, he owes the whole truth both to U.S Army investigators and the people of North Carolina.