Devin Nunes' family farm likely using undocumented labor

The reporter who covered the story was tailed by members of Nunes' family as he conducted his interviews

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 1, 2018 6:16PM (EDT)

Devin Nunes (AP/Shutterstock)
Devin Nunes (AP/Shutterstock)

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has gained considerable notoriety since the beginning of Donald Trump's administration for openly siding with the president during the Trump-Russia investigation instead of remaining neutral — a pretty big deal, considering that he is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is supposed to help investigate those kinds of accusations.

Now it turns out that Nunes' family farm — which is located in Iowa, despite Nunes representing a district in California — may have good reason to be frightened of the president's staunch anti-immigrant policies: It is quite likely that they use undocumented immigrant labor.

To be clear, it has not been proved that Nunes' family farm employs undocumented workers, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty overwhelming. When reporter Ryan Lizza from Esquire visited the Iowa town of Sibley to learn more about the Nunes family dairy farm, he was told by several reliable sources — from town residents to former employees at the farm — that the overwhelming majority of the workers at the farm were undocumented immigrants. Similarly, as Lizza went about his business in the community, he discovered that his car was followed by members of the Nunes family, including Nunes' mother, brother and sister-in-law. On one occasion, a source that had opened up to him received a strange phone call and was suddenly scared off.

As Lizza learned, most of the farms in that area of Iowa had undocumented immigrant workers. One source explained to the reporter, "Who is going to go work in the dairy? Who? Tell me who? If people have papers, they are going to go to a good company where you can get benefits, you can get Social Security, you can get all the stuff. Who is going to go [work in the dairy] to make fourteen dollars an hour doing that thing without vacation time, without 401(k), without everything?"

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"It is disgusting that Devin Nunes has been lying for years about his family farm, pretending he is one of us," Andrew Janz, the Democrat running against Nunes in his district, said in a public statement. "Devin has shown once again that he's left the Valley and the values we hold dear behind just to make a profit. 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. We deserve better."

Speaking exclusively to Salon, Janz also described his outrage at a number of demonstrably false statements that the Nunes campaign had made attacking his record as deputy district attorney, as well as the Fresno Bee newspaper for calling him out on them.

"Devin Nunes has no choice but to bash my strong record as a law enforcement official and attack our local paper that has endorsed him 8 times because he is afraid to talk about the issues," Janz told Salon. "It's clear Devin has accomplished little to nothing for our Valley and is heading into this election extremely insecure. I'm going to keep talking about my plans on healthcare, immigration, and water while Nunes hides from 6 debate invites and continues to play fixer for our President."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, World War II historian Joshua Levine (consultant to "Dunkirk"), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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