The campaign of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is going after more critics of the congressman in court — this time suing a group that has called the congressman a “fake farmer.”
Nunes is claiming that the group and others — including The Fresno Bee’s parent company McClatchy, which routinely covers Nunes — conspired with progressive “dark money” organizations to hurt his 2018 campaign, and it is seeking damages.
Nunes is described as a farmer in his California ballot listing. But Esquire magazine reported last year that the Nunes family farm is a dairy (which has received federal subsidies) in Iowa, thousands of miles from the congressman’s California home. It moved there in 2006. When a group petitioned to change Nunes’ ballot label description last year, a judge ruled that Nunes could continue to call himself a farmer.
Nunes filed suit Thursday against the petitioners in Tulare County Superior Court. Four defendants are named in the suit, including retired organic fruit tree farmer Paul Buxman of Nunes’ home Tulare County and a Los Angeles member of the political group Southern California Americans for Democratic Action.
The court action risks bringing Nunes more bad publicity instead of helping his nest campaign as the media covers the case.
Nunes has launched a string of lawsuits this year, including against Twitter for defamation, against McClatchy, and against a parody Twitter account mocking the congressman, @DevinNunesCow. Another account, @DevinNunesMom, was named in the Twitter suit, and was suspended for a time. Twitter has since been flooded with other Nunes parody accounts.
Media coverage of Nunes’ earlier lawsuits led to the number of readers following Devin Nunes’ Cow skyrocketing to more than 600,000, resulting in far more followers than the number of people tracking Nunes’ own tweets.
Retired farmer Buxman told the Bee in a story Friday that he petitioned to have Nunes’ ballot changed to make it “honest.” He did not seek any monetary damage or award. He said he has no idea what “dark money” is. When he heard about the suit, he said, he prayed for Nunes. Leaders like the congressman, he explained, “need us to help them be the best they can be, for their own sake and for ours.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story referred to Tulare County Supreme Court instead of Tulare County Superior Court.