Nunes flees coffee shop confrontation

Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), who is seeking reelection to a ninth term in the November midterm election, abandoned a meeting and fled a Visalia coffee shop to avoid speaking with constituents and the press.


Rare Local Sighting

Word of his presence spread quickly when Nunes, who has not held a public forum for constituents in the 22nd Congressional District in nearly two years and is rarely seen outside organized party events, was spotted at the Panera Bread on Mooney Boulevard in Visalia on October 23.

Nunes was seated at a table in the restaurant’s main dining area with three other people, one of whom was Anthony Ratekin, Nunes’ chief of staff. The identity of the other two individuals is unknown.

Nunes did not respond when asked why he failed to acknowledge several requests for interviews by reporters from the Valley Voice during the last two years. Ratekin, however, said he was aware of the unanswered requests to speak with Nunes on the record. He did not say why he and Nunes left the requests unanswered.

Asked directly if he would speak on the record, Nunes declined.

“We’re in a– I’m in a meeting,” Nunes said.


Coffee To Go

Ratekin, who gained notoriety locally for accusing the Fresno Bee of conspiring with “left-wing interest groups” against his boss, said an interview with Nunes could be arranged.

“We can figure out a time that’s better for us,” he said. “Now’s not…”

Ratekin did not complete his sentence. Asked if Nunes intends to host an open forum meeting to talk directly with his constituents, Ratekin again dissembled.

“You can get a hold of me about that too,” he said.

It was at this point Nunes, coffee in hand, left the table.


‘I Just Want to Talk to You’

The congressman, however, was confronted by constituents before he could leave the restaurant.

“Hi! You are a real person,” said Betsy Gaudette-Cross, who attempted to engage Nunes in conversation as he made for the exit.

Nunes did not acknowledge Gaudette-Cross. Neither did Nunes speak with Cynthia Thorburn of South Valley Civics, a protest organization that has held weekly rallies focused on Nunes’ lack of accessibility. Thorburn came to confront Nunes when after learning he was at the south Visalia restaurant.

“I’m going to be 65 soon,” she told Nunes as he left. “I’m worried about my healthcare. I’m worried about my Social Security.”

Nunes made no response, and Thorburn followed him and Ratekin into the parking lot.

“Congressman, please, don’t walk away from me,” Thorburn called after Nunes as he moved hurriedly to his car. “I’m worried about my healthcare. Why are you walking away? I don’t want to embarrass you; I just want to talk to you.”

Nunes, leaving Ratekin behind, reached his car, a gray Chevrolet sedan, and left the area.


‘A Mess-Up

After Nunes had departed, Ratekin questioned Thorburn about her previous attempts to speak with Nunes. She’s been trying to arrange a meeting with Nunes to discuss healthcare and Social Security issues for at least two years, she said.

Ratekin told Thorburn a discussion about her concerns could be arranged now that he was aware she wished to speak to someone. The previously ignored requests for a meeting, he said, were perhaps an oversight.

“If there’s an issue, a mess-up, then we’ll– If there was an issue on our end I’m sorry and we’ll look into it,” Ratekin said.

He did not say if Nunes would meet personally with Thorburn. Ratekin insisted, however, that a meeting of some kind would be forthcoming.

“Now that I’ve got your name and where you live, we can look into it,” he said. “We pride ourselves on getting back to people.”

33 thoughts on “Nunes flees coffee shop confrontation

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  1. Corrected Headline: Local Traitorous Congressman Flees From Constituents, Leaves Feckless Flack to Dissemble in his Absence

    • You are not the Valley Voice. If you were, you would have treated Nunes with the respect he deserves. I have personally talked to Nunes on the phone and last year when I visited Washington DC I called Feinstein’s, Boxer’s and Nunes’ office and it was Nunes’ office staff that actually answered my call and set me up with a tour of the Capitol Building and museums. After leaving messages with Feinstein and Boxer’s offices, they never returned my calls.

      • Sorry, Tim, Barbara Boxer has been out of office for over 2 years. Kamala Harris then became our senator. Credibility issue?

      • Hmm. Another Republican toady identifiable by his lies- Boxer was not our Senator last year. You did not call her. Or maybe- if you did- this explains why she didn’t call back! Hilarious.

        I took my kids to DC a few years ago and Feinstein’s office arranged the tours. It is very likely you are lying about her too.

  2. I find this to be the most inaccurate article that I’ve ever seen in the Valley Voice!

    I’ve spoken with Congressman Nunes by telephone on several occasions. He ALWAYS returns the calls from myself and my friends.

    I seen him on Sunday at a sporting event in Tulare and he was happily chatting with constituents.

    • That’s not how it works. His job is to deal with all constituents. I bet if he tried- and in the past he did- he’d be helpful. Trump and Russia changed him.

  3. I really wish people would grow up and stop slandering others no matter who it is that is no way to behave! I am really disappointed in the valley voice I will be unfollowing you from my Facebook this is horrible behavior!

    • Why do you say this is slander? It’s a report of things that happened and were witnessed by others. That’s not slander, it’s facts, which are kinda hard to recognize these days.

  4. OMG District 22….Look, look, look and see….see Devin….see Devin run….see Devin running for office…. see Devin running “away” from his constituents. Such a sad little story about sad little Devin.

  5. “Don’t let them enjoy any restaurant,
    gas station, department store – Harrass them everywhere they go.” Kamala Harris – California Democratic Senator

    These are not constituents, they are activist.

    • To question their actions and motives is not harassment… is a civic duty and an act of patriotism. Don’t let any politician off the hook …. keep asking questions. Don’t support anyone who refuses to attend townhall meetings where all constituents who wish to attend can voice their praise and/or concerns and have their questions answered. Public servants do not have the right to pick and choose which constituents they will speak to. If you want to keep your life private then work in the private sector and stay out of public service where your salary is paid by public tax dollars.

    • “These are not constituents, they are activist.” I am fully aware that current rules of engagement do not require any supporting factual grounds for statements – but, seriously. I am more than tired of being called a “Paid Soros activist” by my Congressional Rep, and part of a “mob” by Trump. So…how about you provide some factual basis for claiming everyone who is unhappy about Nunes is an actual activist, and not an actual constituent?

  6. Yep heard all about it…the reporter screams at nunes and staff…very unprofessional…I used to really enjoy the unbiased perspective of the valley voice…

    • You posted you “heard all about it” so you apparently didn’t actually see or hear anything yourself. Could it be that the person who “reported” to you was “biased”? That’s a possibility. Too bad they didn’t record what they saw on their cell phone so you could see an “unbiased and unedited” recording of the event. Or perhaps it wouldn’t matter to you. Anybody out there who was present at the same place and time record this event on their cell phone?

      • Dave, the author of the piece, captured three cell phone photos. Nunes is clearly hightailing it, but his face is only visible in one photo, and a grainy half of a face it is. Given the current climate, the photos would only cast doubt on the article.

        • Not that it would make a difference to me as VV has a long history of clear and honest news reporting but you might want your reporters to start recording all their conversations with political candidates due to the current climate. Makes it less easier for those who are eager to cast doubt on the press and their legitimacy…echoes of Trump.

          • I recorded the entire interaction. No screaming was involved. I asked Mr. Nunes if he would speak to me, when he declined, I asked again. When I did not physically leave, he did. I followed and recorded the interactions he had with others, as I had none after he declined to speak with me a second time.

  7. I’m a CA22 constituent. I’ve called and emailed questions and request for contact for over a year now, with no response. I do not receive an invitation to his events. If he refuses to respond to constituents who either don’t write him a big check, or who dont have an “R” next to their name, then he is not truly representing his district. These comments stating, “Oh, he always talks to me,” are self-centered and short-sighted.

  8. I”m a CA 22 constituent. I recently met with the Congressman in a bakery/coffee shop. He had other citizens come up to talk to him while we were meeting and he was very friendly and forthcoming with them….even one man who was not friendly, refused to shake the Congressman’s hand, but certainly did not mind interrupting our meeting.

    • Like I said, good for you. I am not the only constituent he fails to respond to.

      So, how did you set up this meeting? I am assuming you are registered Republican and’or have donated to his efforts? You do realize they have lists, right?

  9. It is so funny to read some of these comments. I did NOT come up to Nunes in an attacking way. He was already standing up and walking away. I reached out my hand to shake his. And the only way I can be called an activist is the fact that I am actively taking a roll in my democratic right of wanting to talk to my “representative” who refuses to talk to me. He wasn’t even willing to talk AT ALL. And two of Nunes’ employees put themselves in front of us preventing us from following him. It is quite interesting when you think about how that was so subtly done. It’s like they have this already worked out.

    BTW, the reporter did not SCREAM at Nunes. Who said that? (Oliveoil – you weren’t there) I was there. Probably some of the fake news put out by the Nunes people.

    I have gone to Nunes’ office a couple of times to ask for an appointment. Never heard back. I have called a couple of times to ask for an appointment. Never heard back. Did you know that there are two cameras on the floor in his Visalia office, paid for by us, one as you get off the elevator and one in front of his office? And there is an intercom in front of his office with a locked door so you can’t even go into it? VERY friendly environment…

    Those of you who support him blindly, well, the operative word is “blind”. I want someone who will to talk to me. I have a lot of questions and concerns about our community and I would love to learn about why Nunes feels the way he does. I am not out for blood but I am not a passive constituent or a paid protester.

    • A friend of mine is in Fresno so I read this article… my own Congressman, Mark DeSaulnier, just held his 74th town hall since the last election. Let me write that out — seventy fourth. I don’t always agree with him but he is AVAILABLE, publicly, throughout the year. And I have been to his office — no barriers, no gatekeepers — I just walked right in. A handful of folks here say Devin Nunes has talked with them one-on-one — lucky them. But MY congressman has held 74 public meetings while Nunes has held zero. Don’t Valley folks deserve better than that? Aren’t you American citizens too?

  10. Thank you Cynthia Thorburn for confronting Devin Nunes at one of his rare California Congressional District 22 (CD22) public spottings. You are one of the few “lucky” residents of CD 22 who has actually seen Nunes. He was also seen at restaurant in Fresno and I think at one of the area’s Costcos, but no one confronted him at those sightings.
    I have called, emailed, and demonstrated at Fresno and Clovis and never saw him. My wife and I actually had a group appointment to meet his staff to discuss health care that was cancelled a few hours before the appointment was to to occur. As a member of Faith in Fresno, along with numerous clergy we were denied an appointment with his staff at the Visalia office. No efforts have been successful in getting any type of meeting. It should be obvious to all the Nunes and his staff do not want to see or talk with any constituents that disagree with him, and who are not willing to pay thousands of dollars to his campaign.

  11. And all you people are stupid enough to think that Janz would be any different? BTW, for all of you who chose the word “blindly” as a symonym for stupid or foolish might think of a better word! Those of us who are, in fact, blind are getting tired of your insensitivity.

    • Dave M – thanks for the heads up on the insensitive use of the word “BLINDLY”. You are so correct. I apologize. (Although I’m having a hard time coming up with another way of saying that same thing with one word. “Those of you who support him without thought? Without educating yourself of the facts? Without looking at his record?” Hmmm…)

  12. If you want to stop the looney left from reclaiming power you’d better vote Republican. The dems have no interest in solving problems and will do nothing more, then sow the seeds of political discourse and continue the resist movement. It’s sad, but this is all we can expect from Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff running the asylum.

    • “……….have no interest in solving problems and will do nothing more, then sow the seeds of political discourse……” You have just described the Trumplican Party (former Republican Party no longer exist). But this is all we can expect from Trump and his minions running the asylum. 🙂

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