Three Valley residents who sued to keep Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) from calling himself a farmer were more right than they knew.
An expose published nationwide this month reveals property in Tulare where the Nunes family dairy stood was sold a dozen years ago, and the Nunes family and the congressman’s campaign apparently continue to work to keep the sale–and the subsequent relocation of the Nunes family farm to the Midwest–a secret from voters.
Farm Sold in ’06
According to a report in the November 2018 issue of Esquire Magazine, property owned by the Nunes family in Tulare was sold in 2006. The family business relocated to Sibley, Iowa, the following year. Nunes’ parents, his brother and his brother’s family now live in the tiny, rural Iowa town.
Toni Dian Nunes, Nunes’ mother, continues to serve as campaign finance manager for her son while living outside the district.
According to the article, the relocation of the Nunes farm has never been reported by the local press. Neither has Nunes or his campaign commented on the situation in the dozen years since his family left the Central Valley. The family is also working actively to block the press from reporting the move, Esquire reports.
Farmer on Paper
While a judge ultimately ruled Nunes may continue to describe himself as a farmer on ballot information presented to voters, in fact Nunes owns no farmland and has apparently had no direct income from farming since 2006. Nunes holds small investments in two wineries, one of which was briefly brought to national attention for its sales inside Russia.
Yet Nunes continues to use the term “farmer” to describe himself, and the Esquire article notes the press continues to paint the congressman as a working dairyman. Andrew Janz, the Democratic challenger for the 22nd District seat on the November 6 midterm ballot, says the move is what he’s come to expect of his opponent.
“It is disgusting that Devin Nunes has been lying for years about his family farm, pretending to be one of us,” Janz said. “Devin has shown once again that he’s left the Valley and the values we hold dear behind just to make a profit.”
The Iowa branch of the Nunes family seems to be aware news of their move out-of-state would be taken poorly back in California, and they attempted but failed to prevent it.
The author of the Esquire article reports he was threatened with arrest by Nunes’ father, Anthony Nunes II, when he attempted to talk to him at the family’s Iowa property. The reporter said he was later followed by at least two people as he continued researching Nunes. He later learned, he said, those people included Nunes’ brother, Anthony Nunes III, and Nunes sister-in-law, Lori Nunes.
The behavior, says Janz, who works as a prosecutor for the Fresno County District Attorney, is dishonest and seems typical of his opponent.
“His family moving their farm to Iowa and lying to Californians to protect Devin’s political career is just the latest and most heinous example,” Janz said. “We deserve better.”