Newly obtained texts provide both a more specific timeline about their relationship as well as details that describe intimate encounters.

RALEIGH, N.C. — A race in North Carolina critical to control of the U.S. Senate has been thrown into turmoil over allegations of personal misconduct by Democrat Cal Cunningham, a married man who had an extramarital relationship with a consultant.

Previously undisclosed text messages obtained by The Associated Press and additional interviews show that the relationship extended beyond suggestive texts to an intimate encounter as recently as July.

RELATED: Cunningham pledges to stay in race despite sexually-suggestive text messages

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and the contest between Cunningham and Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has been among the most-watched in the country, with polls showing a tight race and both parties investing heavily in the outcome.

Cunningham’s personal indiscretion offers a fresh test of whether voters will punish candidates for their private, consensual activity, and the answer they deliver could determine which party wields power in the Senate. 

The chamber has been a bulwark for Republicans under President Donald Trump, with Democrats in control of the House.

An Army Reserve lieutenant colonel with a wholesome appeal, Cunningham was widely viewed as the kind of recruit Democrats needed to make inroads in conservative-leaning Southern states like North Carolina.

Yet the text messages and interviews offer a glimpse that is at odds with the image of a devoted family man. 

A week ago, a conservative website, NationalFile.com, published text messages between Cunningham and Arlene Guzman Todd, a public relations strategist from California, that suggested a personal relationship.

The newly obtained texts provide both a more specific timeline about their relationship, which shows it was recent, as well as details that describe intimate encounters — not simply a digital exchange.

RALEIGH, N.C. — A race in North Carolina critical to control of the U.S. Senate has been thrown into turmoil over allegations of personal misconduct by Democrat Cal Cunningham, a married man who had an extramarital relationship this summer with a consultant.

Previously undisclosed text messages obtained by The Associated Press and additional interviews show that the relationship extended beyond suggestive texts, as was previously reported, to an intimate encounter as recent as July.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and the contest between Cunningham and Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has been among the most watched in the country, with polls showing a tight race and both parties investing heavily in the outcome.

Cunningham’s personal indiscretion offers a fresh test of whether voters will punish candidates for their private, consensual activity, and the answer they deliver could determine which party wields power in the Senate. The chamber has been a bulwark for Republicans under President Donald Trump, with Democrats in control of the House.

An Army Reserve lieutenant colonel with a wholesome appeal, Cunningham was widely viewed as the kind of recruit Democrats needed to make inroads in conservative-leaning Southern states like North Carolina.

Yet the text messages and interviews offer a glimpse that is at odds with the image of a devoted family man. A week ago, a conservative website, NationalFile.com, published text messages between Cunningham and Arlene Guzman Todd, a public relations strategist from California, that suggested a personal relationship.

The newly obtained texts, which are between Guzman Todd and a friend, provide a more specific timeline about their recent relationship, as well as details that describe intimate encounters — not simply a digital exchange.

The text messages were not obtained from Guzman Todd. But the AP contacted her to confirm their authenticity. In a series

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A race in North Carolina critical to control of the U.S. Senate has been thrown into turmoil over allegations of personal misconduct by Democrat Cal Cunningham, a married man who had an extramarital relationship with a consultant.

Previously undisclosed text messages obtained by The Associated Press and additional interviews show that the relationship extended beyond suggestive texts to an intimate encounter as recently as July.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and the contest between Cunningham and Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has been among the most watched in the country, with polls showing a tight race and both parties investing heavily in the outcome.

Cunningham’s personal indiscretion offers a fresh test of whether voters will punish candidates for their private, consensual activity, and the answer they deliver could determine which party wields power in the Senate. The chamber has been a bulwark for Republicans under President Donald Trump, with Democrats in control of the House.

An Army Reserve lieutenant colonel with a wholesome appeal, Cunningham was widely viewed as the kind of recruit Democrats needed to make inroads in conservative-leaning Southern states like North Carolina.

Yet the text messages and interviews offer a glimpse that is at odds with the image of a devoted family man. A week ago, a conservative website, NationalFile.com, published text messages between Cunningham and Arlene Guzman Todd, a public relations strategist from California, that suggested a personal relationship.

The newly obtained texts provide both a more specific timeline about their relationship, which shows it was recent, as well as details that describe intimate encounters — not simply a digital exchange.

The text messages were not obtained from Guzman Todd. But the AP contacted her to confirm their authenticity. In a series of interviews late Monday as well as in

BY BRIAN SLODYSKO and GARY D. ROBERTSON, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A race in North Carolina critical to control of the U.S. Senate has been thrown into turmoil over allegations of personal misconduct by Democrat Cal Cunningham, a married man who had an extramarital relationship with a consultant.

Previously undisclosed text messages obtained by The Associated Press and additional interviews show that the relationship extended beyond suggestive texts to an intimate encounter as recently as July.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and the contest between Cunningham and Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has been among the most watched in the country, with polls showing a tight race and both parties investing heavily in the outcome.

Cunningham’s personal indiscretion offers a fresh test of whether voters will punish candidates for their private, consensual activity, and the answer they deliver could determine which party wields power in the Senate. The chamber has been a bulwark for Republicans under President Donald Trump, with Democrats in control of the House.

An Army Reserve lieutenant colonel with a wholesome appeal, Cunningham was widely viewed as the kind of recruit Democrats needed to make inroads in conservative-leaning Southern states like North Carolina.

Yet the text messages and interviews offer a glimpse that is at odds with the image of a devoted family man. A week ago, a conservative website, NationalFile.com, published text messages between Cunningham and Arlene Guzman Todd, a public relations strategist from California, that suggested a personal relationship.

The newly obtained texts provide both a more specific timeline about their relationship, which shows it was recent, as well as details that describe intimate encounters — not simply a digital exchange.

The text messages were not obtained from Guzman Todd. But the AP contacted her to confirm their authenticity. In a

A new book tells the story behind Operation Varsity Blues, the largest college admissions scandal ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR


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Elissa Nadworny/NPR

A new book tells the story behind Operation Varsity Blues, the largest college admissions scandal ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

The college admissions process has long been sold as a system of merit: Do well in school, write a killer essay, score well on the SAT, and you’ll get in. Yet the recent nationwide scandal, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, laid bare just how much money, instead of aptitude, often drives admissions at elite colleges.

In March of 2019, federal prosecutors charged 50 people with participating in a scheme to cheat the college admissions system at select colleges nationwide. The investigation into widespread cheating and corruption included Hollywood celebrities, Division I college coaches and wealthy parents who conspired to cheat the process. At its center was a college counselor named Rick Singer, who made millions by bribing coaches at major universities to admit his clients’ children as athletes for sports they often didn’t play, and by rigging SAT and ACT test scores.

In the new book Unacceptable: Privilege, Deceit, & the Making of the College Admissions Scandal journalists Melissa Korn and Jennifer Levitz , who covered Operation Varsity Blues for the Wall Street Journal, give life to the largest college admissions scandal ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The interview was edited for brevity.

What did you find most interesting about Operation Varsity Blues?

Melissa Korn: I found the complexity of the scheme to be the most interesting part. This wasn’t just one corrupt guy helping a crooked parent. Each prong of the operation, both testing and bribery/fake athletes, involved multiple players