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Tipsheet

Exclusive: NC GOP Knocks 'Sellout' Cal Cunningham as He Battles #MeToo Hypocrisy

AP Photo/Gerry Broome

The North Carolina Republican Party unveiled a blistering ad that hits Democratic senate hopeful Cal Cunningham over his silence on Tara Reade’s allegations of sexual misconduct against Joe Biden. Dubbed a “sellout” by the GOP, the ad exposes Cunninghan’s selective care for allegations of sexual misconduct, depending upon the ideological beliefs of the accused party. Cunningham, an ally of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NC), hopes to unseat GOP incumbent Thom Tillis in November. 

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Cunningham has offered minimal comment on Reade’s claim that Biden violently assaulted her while she worked in his Senate office in 1993. When pressed on the validity of Reade’s claims against Biden by Politico, Cunningham’s campaign said that Biden has taken the allegations seriously. The former vice president has outright denied Reade's claims, while documents from his tenure in the Senate, which could contain a record of Reade's allegations, remain under lock and key at the University of Delaware.

North Carolina’s GOP accuses Cunningham of protecting Biden he criticized then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh as he faced less-credible, unsubstantiated and uncorroborated allegations during his confirmation to the Supreme Court in 2018:

“Cal Cunningham sold out the #Metoo movement to protect Joe Biden, just like he’d sell out North Carolinians and rubber-stamp Biden’s extreme liberal agenda,” said NCGOP spokeswoman Sash Duncan. “This ad makes clear that if Cunningham abandons his principles on something as serious as rape allegations for the sake of towing the party line, he can never be trusted to put North Carolina first.” 

Cunningham’s glaringly hypocritical defense of Biden is not the first instance of the North Carolina Democrat’s suspicious history with the #MeToo movement. While student body president at the University of North Carolina, Cunningham advocated against a harsher penalty for UNC professor James Williams, who was caught using university dollars to pay off Ako Shimada, a student with whom he had an affair. Williams’ punishment was originally a year of paid leave in exchange for leaving campus on a temporary basis, and such a lenient reprimand was sufficient in Cunningham’s eyes, according to the Chapel Hill Herald in 1995:

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“Despite the bad publicity, if the worst thing Williams is guilty of is having sex with two students, then he probably shouldn't face harsher penalties, said UNC senior Calvin Cunningham, the student body president. ‘She [Shimada] isn't complaining. He's not complaining,’ Cunningham said. ‘I think it raises some issues of propriety but I don't think it's going too far.’”

Cunningham’s fluid views on the #MeToo moment are visibly vested in self-interest, and given his previous rhetoric, the Senate hopeful’s defense of Biden is fueled by political ambition. 

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