The estranged brother of a former judge running for county commissioner contacted the Dallas Morning News earlier this week with a bold assertion: that the candidate, Vickers ‘Vic’ Cunningham, was a lifelong racist.
Cunningham, a former criminal district judge, largely denied his brother’s accusations. But he confirmed to the newspaper that he had set up a living trust with a clause that would reward his children if they married a white person.
“I strongly support traditional family values,” Cunningham, 55, told the Morning News. “If you marry a person of the opposite sex that’s Caucasian, that’s Christian, they will get a distribution.”
The trust, in addition to other allegations of racist behavior, has already cost him an endorsement in a Republican runoff election on May 22 for county commissioner in Dallas County.
Cunningham said his views on interracial marriage have changed since 2010, when he created the trust. He said he is accepting of his son’s relationship with a woman of Vietnamese descent, for example — but he told the Morning News he could not change the terms of the trust.
While Cunningham claims he is not a racist, statements people claim he’s made show otherwise. Amanda Tackett, who worked on Cunningham’s 2006 campaign for district attorney, said she heard him on several occasions use the n-word to describe black people. She told the Morning News that Cunningham would refer to his criminal cases involving black people as “T.N.D.s,” which stood for “Typical [n-word] Deals.” Tackett likened Cunningham to “a character out of a movie.”
Cunningham told the Morning News that, despite the racial preferences he had for his children’s spouses, he was never discriminatory as a criminal district judge — a job he held for 10 years in Dallas County, during which he presided over the trials of dozens of black and Hispanic people and sent them to prison. When asked by the newspaper if he’d ever used the n-word, he paused for several seconds, and asked if the question was referring to the use of the word in court. When the newspaper clarified that the question meant use of the word in everyday life, he said no.
Now, he faces an election in a county where blacks and Hispanics make up the majority of the population. It’s already a contentious race between Cunningham and attorney J.J. Koch, who last year filed a lawsuit hoping to oust the Dallas County elections administrator. Cunningham entered the race because of the lawsuit, as he was concerned that Koch would fail in the five-member commissioners court’s only Republican seat, having burned bridges with many county officials, the Morning News reported. The lawsuit was eventually dropped.
County commissioners are typically responsible for administering the county government. The Republican nominee will face Wini Cannon, a Democrat, and Alberto Perez, a Libertarian, in November.
Cunningham and his campaign could not be immediately reached by The Washington Post for comment. He has not indicated that he will drop out of the race.
In February, the editorial board of the Morning News endorsed Cunningham in the race, saying he “would also bring an even temperament, honed by years on the criminal bench, to what has often been a fractious governing body.”
On Friday the editorial board pulled its backing after the latest revelations.
Cunningham’s brother, Bill Cunningham, approached the Morning News on Monday, shortly after Cunningham showed up at his home and threatened him and his husband, who is black, and repeatedly referred to his husband as “your boy,” the newspaper reported.
“His views and his actions are disqualifying for anyone to hold public office in 2018,” Bill Cunningham told the newspaper. “It frightens me to death to think of people in power who could hurt people.”
Cunningham’s other brothers, Ross Cunningham and Greg Cunningham, said Bill Cunningham was a deeply troubled man who was estranged from the family. They said he was trying to destroy Vic Cunningham’s election prospects because of a loan dispute.