Devin Nunes

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Devin Nunes
Devin nunes.jpg
Chair of the House Intelligence Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded by Mike Rogers
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 22nd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Kevin McCarthy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 21st district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Bill Thomas
Succeeded by David Valadao
Personal details
Born Devin Gerald Nunes
(1973-10-01) October 1, 1973 (age 45)
Tulare, California, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Tamariz
Children 3
Education College of the Sequoias (AA)
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (BS, MS)

Devin Gerald Nunes, GOIH /ˈnˌnɛs/[1] (born October 1, 1973), is a Republican U.S. Representative for California's 22nd congressional district, serving since 2003. He serves as chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and served as a member of President Trump's transition team.[2] Nunes's district, numbered as the 21st from 2003 to 2013, is in the San Joaquin Valley and includes most of western Tulare County and much of eastern Fresno County.

In early 2017, he was criticized for his alleged bias in a Congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.[3][4] On April 6, 2017, he temporarily stepped aside from leading that investigation while the Office of Congressional Ethics investigates charges that he improperly disclosed classified information to the public, but he remains committee chairman for other purposes. Nunes has denied the allegations.[5][6]

Early life, education and career

Nunes was born on October 1, 1973, in Tulare, California, the older of two sons born to Anthony and Diane Nunes.[7] His family has operated a farm in Tulare County for three generations. The Nunes family is of Portuguese descent, immigrating from the Azores to California.[8] After receiving his associate of arts degree from the College of the Sequoias, Nunes graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a bachelor's degree in agricultural business and a master's degree in agriculture.[9]

In 2009 Nunes wrote in the Wall Street Journal that he became an entrepreneur at age 14, when he bought seven head of young cattle, learning quickly how to profit from his investment. "I had cracked open my piggy bank to buy seven head of young cattle to raise and sell", Nunes wrote. "I had two choices: I could buy feed or I could fix fences in exchange for free grazing. Like water flowing down a furrow, my cattle went to pasture where I could make a higher profit."[10]

Nunes unseated an 18-year incumbent on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, the College of the Sequoias, earning 65% of the vote.[11] In 2001, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as California State Director for the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development section.

Election history

In 2002 Nunes ran for the Republican nomination in the 21st congressional district, a new district created through reapportionment after the 2000 United States census. His principal opponents in the crowded seven-way primary were former Fresno mayor Jim Patterson and state Assemblyman Mike Briggs. Nunes was the only major candidate from Tulare County; Patterson and Briggs were both from Fresno. This was critical, as 58% of the district's population was in Tulare County.[12] Patterson and Briggs split the vote in Fresno County, allowing Nunes to win by a four-point margin over Patterson, his nearest competitor. Nunes won 46.5% of the vote in Tulare County and 28.1% of the vote in Fresno County. Nunes was also helped by a strong showing in the rural part of the district.[13] He won the endorsements of the California Farm Bureau and the Fresno Bee.[12] The district is solidly Republican, and Nunes coasted to victory in November. He has been reelected seven times against only nominal Democratic opposition. During the June 8, 2010, primary, Nunes actually received more write-in votes in the Democratic primary than the Democratic write-in candidate.[14][15] He ran unopposed in the 2010 general election.

Nunes' district was renumbered the 22nd after the 2010 census. It lost most of eastern Tulare County to the neighboring 23rd District, and now has a small plurality of Hispanic voters. Despite these changes, it is no less Republican than its predecessor.

U.S. Congress


During the 2014 election, Nunes received approximately $1.4 million in Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions.[16] During the 2016 election, he received approximately $1.6 million in campaign contributions from PACs.[17]

Committees and caucuses

In 2015, Nunes became the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.[18]

Nunes is co-chair (along with Jared Polis, Democrat of Colorado) of the U.S.-Mexico Friendship Caucus. In that capacity, he and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer met with President Felipe Calderón of Mexico in April 2012.[19]

112th Congress

114th Congress

Fiscal policy (taxation and budgets)

Nunes, influenced by David Bradford, has been a longtime proponent of a consumption tax model.[20] In 2016, Nunes introduced the American Business Competitiveness Act (H.R. 4377), known as the ABC Act, a "cash-flow tax plan" featuring full expensing and a reduction of the highest rate for federal corporate income tax rate to 25 percent.[20] Nunes's proposal was influential among House Republicans, and had similarities to the House Republican tax plan introduced by Speaker Paul Ryan and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady in June 2016.[20] Conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin said that Nunes had "a tremendous impact on the debate" for a non-chairman.[20]

Nunes has been critical of the House Freedom Caucus; in 2013, he described Republican colleagues pushing for a government shutdown as "lemmings with suicide vests".[20]

In April 2016, Nunes voted for the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act,[21][22][23][24] a bill promoted by the Koch Brothers;[25] critics of the measure have suggested that the proposed bill hampers transparency, since it would make it easier for wealthy donors as well as foreign corporations and governments to make undisclosed political contributions to 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups.[26][27][25][28][29][25][30][31][32][33][34]

Climate change denial and water shortage

In February 2014, during a drought in California, Nunes rejected any link to global warming, saying "Global warming is nonsense."[35] He criticized the federal government for shutting off portions of California's system of water irrigation and storage and diverting water into a program for freshwater salmon and the delta smelt. "There was plenty of water. This has nothing to do with drought."[35] Nunes elaborated on his beliefs in an April 2015 National Review article. At the time California farmers were criticized for their water usage, making the state's drought worse: the agriculture sector uses at least 80 percent of the state's water, often on water-intensive crops such as almonds. Nunes, a third-generation dairy farmer, challenged media criticism of the agriculture industry: "Farmers do not use 80 percent of California's water. In reality, 50 percent of the water that is captured by the state's dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, and other infrastructure is diverted for environmental causes. Farmers, in fact, use 40 percent of the water supply. Environmentalists have manufactured the 80 percent statistic by deliberately excluding environmental diversions from their calculations."[36] Nunes added that California's lack of adequate water storage facilities had only made the problem worse: "Furthermore, in many years there are additional millions of acre-feet of water that are simply flushed into the ocean due to a lack of storage capacity—a situation partly explained by environmental groups' opposition to new water-storage projects.[36] Returning to an argument he has made before regarding California's water storage and irrigation system, Nunes added, "The drought is a genuine problem in California, but our irrigation system was designed to withstand five years of drought."[36]

On May 1, 2011, with the support of other members of the San Joaquin Valley's Republican Congressional Delegation, Nunes authored the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act to stop a project designed to restore a dried-up section of the San Joaquin River. This later became the basis for another bill Nunes co-sponsored, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, which passed the House of Representatives in February 2014 but was not voted on by the Senate. Nunes also co-sponsored the California Emergency Drought Relief Act, which passed the House of Representatives in December 2014 but was also not voted on by the Senate. Water restrictions have been in place to enforce the Endangered Species Act and other environmental regulations that have seen water allocations decline dramatically even in non-drought years. The result has been what Nunes terms a "man-made drought".[37] Nunes wrote in National Review in April 2015, "The House of Representatives has passed three bills in the last three years that would have expanded California water supplies by rolling back damaging environmental regulations. These bills died amid opposition from Senate Democrats, Governor Brown, and President Obama."[36]

Immigration and refugees

Nunes supported President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order imposing a temporary ban on entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, calling it "a common-sense security measure to prevent terror attacks on the homeland".[38]

Intelligence Committee

Nunes opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an international agreement that the the U.S. and other major world powers negotiated with Iran, under which Iran was granted partial sanctions relief in exchange for limits and monitoring of its nuclear activities.[39][40]

As House Intelligence Committee chairman, Nunes oversaw the Republican-controlled committee's two-year-long investigation into the U.S. response to the 2012 Benghazi attack. The committee's final report found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or any other Obama administration official, and concluded that the response of CIA and U.S. military to the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound was correct.[41] The committee's report debunked "a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies" about the attack, determining that "there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria", but found "that the State Department facility where [Christopher] Stevens and [Sean] Smith were killed was not well-protected, and that State Department security agents knew they could not defend it from a well-armed attack".[41]

Paul Ryan vacated the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee when he replaced John Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives. While Nunes's claim to the committee gavel was strong, Ryan asked him to stay on the Intelligence Committee and Nunes complied.[42][43]

Repeal of EPA protections on health

In 2006, Nunes authored the "American-Made Energy Freedom Act". In July 2008, the Republican Conference introduced the American Energy Act, which included a key Nunes proposal from the American-Made Energy Freedom Act to establish a renewable energy trust fund from revenues generated by deep ocean and Arctic coastal plain exploration and invest the monies in alternative fuels and technology.[44]

On July 28, 2010, Nunes introduced H.R. 5899, "A Roadmap for America's Energy Future". It accelerates the exploration and production of fossil fuel; supports the rapid development of market-based alternative energy supplies; and expands the number of nuclear reactors from the current 104 to 300 over the next 30 years.[45] Kimberley Strassel of The Wall Street Journal wrote that "It's a bill designed to produce energy, not restrict it. It returns government to the role of energy facilitator, not energy boss. It costs nothing and contains no freebies. It instead offers a competitive twist to government support of renewable energy."[46]

Federal cuts, healthcare repeal and state pensions

On January 27, 2010, Nunes became an original cosponsor of H.R. 4529, "A Roadmap for America's Future", sponsored by Paul Ryan.[47][48] H.R. 4529 proposes major reforms of the U.S. health care system, Social Security, the federal tax code, job training, and the budget process. The "Roadmap" claims to solve the problem of the unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and provides for their long-term financial solvency. With respect to Medicaid, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that the plan would increase costs for States or those States would reduce enrollment; with respect to Medicare, the CBO has said the average senior would pay nearly twice what they currently contribute for the same coverage when the plan is fully implemented. Nunes was also a cosponsor of "Roadmap for America's Future Act of 2008", an earlier version of H.R. 4529.

Also in 2009, Nunes coauthored the "Patients' Choice Act" with Paul Ryan (R-WI) in the House, and Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Richard Burr (R-NC) in the Senate. The Patient's Choice Act would establish a system of state health insurance exchanges and amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a refundable tax credit for qualified health care insurance coverage. The bill also proposes to adsorb Medicaid programs to the exchange system.[49] The Patients' Choice Act was incorporated into A Roadmap for America's Future.

On December 2, 2010, Nunes introduced H.R. 6484, the "Public Employee Pension Transparency Act".[50] Paul Ryan and Darrell Issa (R-CA) are cosponsors. H.R. 6484 enhances transparency for state and local pensions, and would establish a clear federal prohibition on any future public pension bailouts by the federal government.


California State Route 99 is a highway running north and south that breaks off from Interstate 5 at Wheeler Ridge in Kern County and continues through the Central Valley until it connects with I-5 again at Red Bluff in Tehama County. In 2005, Nunes introduced H.R. 99, which designated State Route 99 as a congressional High Priority Corridor. The bill also provided federal authorization for Highway 99 to become part of the Interstate Highway System. On February 17, 2011, Nunes introduced H.R. 761, the "San Joaquin Valley Transportation Enhancement Act", which would give the State of California the option to redirect federal high-speed rail funds to finance improvements to Highway 99.[51] H.R. 761 was cosponsored by Jeff Denham (R-CA) and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).[52]

Trump–Russia investigation

In February 2017, Nunes, who served on the Trump transition team, was the first leading House Republican to deny that the intelligence community had evidence of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.[53] He has rejected repeated calls for an investigation by a select committee,[54][55] saying that the House will not engage in a "witch hunt" and that "at this point, there's nothing there".[55] Nunes also rejected calls that he request Trump's tax returns.[53] At the request of a White House communications aide, Nunes spoke to a Wall Street Journal reporter to challenge a story about the Trump campaign's connections to Russia.[56]

After Trump's national security adviser Michael T. Flynn resigned after it was revealed that he had misled the Trump administration about his communication with Russian officials, Nunes said he would not seek to investigate Flynn's ties to Russia.[57] Nunes said, "From everything that I can see, his conversations with the Russian ambassador—he was doing this country a favor, and he should be thanked for it."[57]

On March 22, 2017, during the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, Nunes held a press conference to announce that he had received information that communications of members of Trump's transition team had been "incidentally collected" by the intelligence community. The communications had been obtained legally during foreign intelligence surveillance, but were not related to Russia. He added that the information was "widely disseminated" in the intelligence community, and later clarified that Trump associates were not necessarily participants in the intercepted conversations.[58] Nunes was widely criticized for sharing this information with the media and the president before briefing his colleagues on the committee.[59] According to Nunes, the intercepted communications came in November, December and January – after Trump won the election but before he was sworn in as president.[60] Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, and House Democratic leadership called on Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation.[6] He also received criticism from Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.[61] The latter compared Nunes's actions to those of the comically incompetent fictional character Inspector Clouseau.[62]

In late March 2017, Nunes canceled a public hearing in which former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former National Security Agency Director James Clapper, and former FBI Director John Brennan were to testify,[63] saying that he wanted to hear FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers in a classified setting first. Democrats criticized Nunes's decision and said that he was trying protect the White House from damaging revelations.[64][65]

On April 6, 2017, Nunes temporarily recused himself from the Russia investigation while the Office of Congressional Ethics investigates whether he "improperly disclosed classified information" in his March press conference.[5] He called the charges "entirely false and politically motivated".[6]

On April 12, 2017, sources from both the Republican and Democratic parties said that the original documents Nunes cited do not support his claims that the Obama administration acted illegally or unusually.[66]


Nunes has been characterized by his opponents as confrontational and sharp-tongued.[67] He wrote in his book that members of the environmental lobby were "followers of neo-Marxist, socialist, Maoist or Communist ideals".[68] During the debate over President Obama's health care bill in the House of Representatives, Nunes said of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "For most of the 20th century people fled the ghost of communist dictators and now you are bringing the ghosts back into this chamber."[69] He has also had a long-running dispute with another San Francisco Bay Area Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, over California water policy and other issues,[70] even running a series of advertisements against her in California.[71]

Nunes's criticisms are not limited to liberals or the Obama administration. During the October 2013 budget standoff, Nunes famously called certain members of his own Republican Conference who favored a government shutdown "lemmings with suicide vests". "It's kind of an insult to lemmings to call them lemmings" because of their tactics, he said.[72][73][74] Nunes explained the origin of his remarks, and the climate in the House GOP Conference and floor in an interview and panel discussion on CNN, during the government shutdown, which he posted on his YouTube channel on October 5, 2013.[75]

In May 2014, Nunes came under fire when he charged that Michigan Congressman and fellow Republican Justin Amash was "al-Qaeda's best friend in Congress" because of Amash's supposed voting record on National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance. At the time, Amash had voted in opposition to a Nunes water bill for California "on constitutional grounds".[76]

In March 2017, Nunes was excoriated by Democrats and some Republicans for sharing information on an investigation of the Trump campaign with the administration without communicating it to his Democratic Intelligence Committee counterpart, Representative Adam Schiff.[77]

Portuguese interests and personal ties

The Nunes family is of Portuguese descent, immigrating from the Azores to California in the early 20th century, though Devin Nunes was born in California.[8] Nunes wrote a foreword to the 1951 novel Home Is An Island by Portuguese-American author Alfred Lewis for the 2012 edition by Tagus Press, an imprint of the Center for Portuguese Culture and Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.[78]

In 2015, Nunes argued with the Pentagon over a U.S. base in the Azores, Portugal.[79] He proposed relocating Africa Command and European Command intelligence centers to the Azores, contrary to plans by Pentagon and NATO to create a larger intelligence "fusion" facility in the United Kingdom, maintaining that this would save money because of the Azores' lower living and construction costs.[80] The Pentagon responded by stating "Moving to Lajes Field is very expensive and living is expensive as well."[81]

Personal life

Nunes is married to Elizabeth Nunes (née Tamariz), with whom he has three daughters—Evelyn, Julia, and Margaret.[7]



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External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bill Thomas
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 21st congressional district

Succeeded by
David Valadao
Preceded by
Kevin McCarthy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 22nd congressional district

Preceded by
Mike Rogers
Chair of the House Intelligence Committee
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Tim Murphy
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Mike Rogers