Up until recently, The Dallas Morning News was recommending Vickers ‘Vic’ Cunningham, a former criminal district judge, for the Precinct 2 seat on the Dallas County Commissioners Court.
But the paper withdrew its support when it came to light that Cunningham’s “Christian values” included racism and homophobia. In an editorial it said:
Recent developments have caused us to reconsider, and we are withdrawing our recommendation of Cunningham. That decision is based on several pieces of information that have come to light in the final days of this campaign, in which Cunningham is competing against lawyer and businessman J.J. Koch.
In 2010, Cunningham established a living trust for his children, the terms of which suggest a personal problem with diversity. The trust provides financial distributions to his children if they reach certain milestones, including marriage to someone who is white, Christian and of the opposite sex.
Cunningham spoke to The Dallas Morning News about the trust after his estranged brother, Bill Cunningham, who is gay and married to a black man, revealed last Monday that his brother had been a lifelong racist.
Bill Cunningham alleged that the former judge arrived at his home and threatened him and his husband, Demonse Williams, and referred to Williams repeatedly as:
Your boy. His views and his actions are disqualifying for anyone to hold public office in 2018. It frightens me to death to think of people in power who could hurt people.
Vic Cunningham denied harbouring racial bigotry but did confirm one of his brother’s primary allegations: that his trust includes a stipulation intended to discourage a child from marrying a person of another race or of the same sex.
Cunningham said his views on interracial marriage have evolved since he created the trust in 2010. He said he has accepted his son’s relationship with a woman of Vietnamese origin, though he said he couldn’t change the terms of his trust.
I strongly support traditional family values. If you marry a person of the opposite sex that’s Caucasian, that’s Christian, they will get a distribution.
A former political aide of Cunningham’s described him making repeated racist statements. A text message from Cunningham’s son showed concern that his father would not accept his relationship with an Asian woman. And in a recorded conversation, Cunningham’s mother, Mina Cunningham, acknowledged her son had been a longtime bigot.
Vic Cunningham denied threatening his brother or describing his brother’s husband as “boy.”
Vic Cunningham, 56, and his brothers Ross Cunningham, 44, and Greg Cunningham, 62, described their brother Bill on Friday as a deeply troubled man who has been ousted from the family and written out of their parents’ wills.
They said Bill is trying to sabotage Vic’s campaign over anger that Vic denied Bill a $45,000 loan.
Said Ross Cunningham:
I’m embarrassed that my brother fabricated stories that drag my family’s name through the mud.
Vic Cunningham is running for commissioner in a county that is majority minority, with blacks and Hispanics making up a large portion of the population. As a judge in the county for 10 years, he sent scores of black and Hispanic people to prison after they were convicted of crimes. He said that his views on his children marrying outside their race never translated into unfairness on the bench or discrimination in any way.
Amanda Tackett, a former D Magazine writer and friend of Bill Cunningham’s who worked on Vic Cunningham’s 2006 campaign for district attorney, said she heard the former judge repeatedly use the N-word to insult black people behind their backs.
I’ve never met another Caucasian person like this. Vic Cunningham is like a character out of a movie.
The relationship among the Cunningham brothers has been fraught for years but appears to have collapsed upon the death of their father in 2016.
He said, ‘Hey, welcome back, Billy, come on over, let’s have a good bottle of wine. I said, ‘Well, we’d love to.’ And he said, ‘Uh-uh – you can’t bring him, he’s not coming in my house’.