More than 200 miles south of Sacramento, the seat of California politics, lies the city of Tulare. Home to 60,000 Californians, it’s nestled in the San Joaquin Valley, a division of the Central Valley below the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
With its economy focused mostly on agriculture and dairy and its location smack between northern and southern California, Tulare prides itself on being the “core” of California’s agricultural industry.
Another aspect of Tulare lends it additional significance. It is the hometown to California Rep. Devin Nunes, the current chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the author of the “Nunes memo,” a four-page document released in February detailing alleged surveillance abuses committed by the U.S. government.
Before the release of the memo, Nunes had been vocal in his skepticism towards federal agencies and their handling of potential election interference during the 2016 election. His criticisms earned him a litany of nicknames from those opposed to his attacks on federal agencies, such as “Trump’s political stooge” who is simply “doing dirty work” to shield Trump, or simply a “presidential fig-leaf holder.”
Uncover Their Abuse, and Powerful People Get Mad
As Jim Geraghty of National Review points out, prior to President Trump’s 2016 election, the “farmer-turned-politician” was little known outside the Central Valley. Despite allegations of being cozy with Trump, the congressman’s relationship with Trump has historically been nothing extraordinary or beyond the bounds of professionally friendly.
Nunes served on Trump’s transition team, helping select various members of President Trump’s cabinet. His suspicion towards federal agencies, however, has been the catalyst for leftist infamy. Yet Nunes’ wariness towards federal agencies has been nothing short of warranted. Federal agencies used material sourced and financed by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee to secure approval to spy on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
As Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist recently pointed out, “The only way the country knows that the Russia conspiracy theory was a Clinton campaign operation that was weaponized and subsidized by the country’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies is thanks to congressional oversight…Nunes has taken most of the heat for doing congressional oversight rather than congressional complacency.” In short, Nunes is precisely why we know anything about Hillary Clinton and the DNC’s dishonest and bizarre activities.
So it’s no surprise, given Nunes’ role in exposing the mendacity of the Clinton campaign and Clinton’s compadres in the DNC, that the anti-Trump resistance would rush to assault Nunes’s reputation, not just on a federal level, but at a local level, as well.
Reporters as Mouthpieces for Ideological Campaigns
As the largest newspaper in Nunes’ district, The Fresno Bee’s reporting has seemed to operate as an arm of the resistance. Last September, The Fresno Bee covered a protest outside Nunes’ Visalia office, reportedly led by local clergy from the group Faith in the Valley. Carmen George of The Fresno Bee reported, “Faith leaders prayed, sang and chanted at Rep. Devin Nunes’ office in Visalia on Tuesday morning to voice concerns about federal policies regarding immigration and health care.”
Faith in the Valley is no ordinary interfaith organization. It’s a progressive, left-wing activist group. But nowhere in The Fresno Bee’s article is this simple fact acknowledged. A description of their immigration and health-care stances is buried towards the end of the article, thus hinting at their social justice slant. However, to have properly identified Faith in the Valley as a left-wing activist group in the title would have damaged the narrative that opposing Nunes is a matter of moral justice, not of partisan activism.
In addition to omitting information, the hometown newspaper has gone to great lengths recently to pin illicit events at a charity wine cruise on Nunes. Nunes is a limited partner in a small California winery called Alpha Omega. It’s owned by his old friend.
Each year, Alpha Omega’s owner auctions his yacht off for charity. In 2016, the winners of the auction, who had no connection to the winery, allegedly brought sex workers onto the boat and used illicit substances. As a result, one of the Alpha Omega employees who was serving the winners sued the winery, and the suit was settled out of court.
The auction winners’s alleged behavior deserves the utmost condemnation. But in several articles The Fresno Bee has done all it can to imply that behavior somehow reflects Nunes.
The first, by its very title — “A yacht, cocaine, prostitutes: Winery partly owned by Nunes sued after fundraiser event” — suggests Nunes might have some responsibility to bear in the event, despite him not having been on the boat during the alleged activity, being one of numerous owners in the company, having no say in management, and earning no more than $5,000 in fiscal year 2016 for his investment.
The Fresno Bee reports the winery’s statement that no one on the boat had any connection to the winery, but it is buried (again) deep within the article and presented almost as an alleged detail. Indeed, it seems this statement could be easily investigated and reported as fact, but again, it’s a lousy attempt to drag Nunes into a scandal that has nothing to do with him.
A left-wing group known as the American Democracy Legal Fund seized upon The Fresno Bee’s insinuations and recently filed an ethics complaint against Nunes regarding the incident. The Fresno Bee had the opportunity to volley back, publishing a story on the filing of the complaint, making it the third article (following a Bee op-ed denouncing Nunes) linking Nunes to an incident with which he had no involvement.
Then They Pestered His Uncle, Grandma, and Wife
In addition to agenda-driven reporting, the localized resistance, comprised of both media figures and political opponents, has gone to strange lengths to badger Nunes’ extended family.
Last month, Gerald Nunes, Devin’s uncle, was accused of “harass[ing]” the video crew of Devin’s Democratic opponent, Andrew Janz, while Janz’s team was shooting a campaign video. The Janz team originally started shooting the video on land Gerald owned, although he had not given the crew permission to do so.
Gerald confronted the crew and asked them to leave his property, and a member of the irrigation district later called the police. The crew then moved to land nearby that Gerald rents. The result of this staged filming fiasco targeting Nunes’ uncle? Janz posted a tweet accusing Devin Nunes of “send[ing] one of his relatives to stop” Janz’s team from filming and referring to Nunes and his relatives as “triggered snowflakes.”
Of all the land in Fresno and Tulare counties, Janz chose land occupied by Nunes’ family as the ideal location to shoot his commercial. Mere happenstance? Unlikely. But surely a perfect opportunity for resistance-type figures to harangue Nunes’ family members, then frame Nunes as responsible.
Nunes’ uncle isn’t the only one whom political activists have pestered. His 98-year-old grandmother also received an unannounced visit from a Fresno Bee reporter.
Meanwhile, Nunes’ wife, a public school teacher in Visalia, also has been targeted. Her emails were recently released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) due to a request from an individual in Los Angeles. Nunes’ Chief of Staff Anthony Ratekin stated, “A left-wing group used the information [from the FOIA] to file a frivolous ethics complaint against Rep. Nunes based on a willful misreading and blatant misrepresentation of the information.”
The group, Campaign for Accountability, refused to comment on whether they had collaborated with the LA individual who filed the FOIA, even when this writer contacted them several times regarding the matter. The ethics complaint is filled with sheer speculation and innuendo accusing Nunes of financial improprieties.
For example, it notes that Nunes invested less than the minimum investment amount in another winery, speculating this means he either lied on his financial returns or received favorable treatment. According to Nunes spokesperson Jack Langer, however, Nunes simply pooled his money with other investors in a holding company to meet the minimum investment, after having cleared the investment with both the House Ethics Committee and the winery.
Harassing Family Should Be Completely Off-Limits
Between the oppositional reporting from the district’s largest newspaper, left-wing groups’ weaponization of the ethics process, and harassment of his family, the treatment of Nunes speaks volumes about what happens when one disrupts the leftist beehive.
Reporting at The Fresno Bee suggests Nunes is somehow associated with hiring sex workers and lied about his financial holdings, and that his family seeks to harass his opponent. But a little investigation would tell you that not one of these accusations is true.
Integrity comes in reporting the truthful nuance—a skill that seems to be lacking from many mainstream media outlets. As one lifelong Fresno Bee reader revealed to Vice News during a street interview, he now thinks the media isn’t reporting the “objective facts” necessary to determine whether Nunes is doing a good job. And that’s a problem.
Regardless of one’s feelings towards Nunes, we should all be able to agree that family members shouldn’t be subject to harassment and that we should hold elected officials accountable for that which they are actually accountable—nothing more, nothing less. To do otherwise is to create both an unhealthy political climate and cheapen criticism.
Despite the resistance’s coordinated melee, the Central Valley farmer and grandchild of Azorean immigrants is expected to win his district this November—and quite handily, too.