California Republican Congressman Devin Nunes (previously) has been one of Trump's most ardent supporters, who has used his office as Head of the House Intelligence Committee to promote the evidence-free conspiracy theory that Obama's FBI spied on the Trump campaign.
Historically, Nunes has set himself apart from his fellow Republicans: willing to compromise on immigration reform, and hailing from the predominantly Democratic state of California.
Nunes's Californian roots have been key to his electoral success; his campaign literature, press interviews and public appearances make great hay out of his family's dairy farm in California.
What Nunes's materials don't mention is that his family secretly relocated the family farm to Iowa in 2006, to the town of Sibley (a town best known for having unsuccessfully sued a resident for putting up a website complaining about the "rotten blood and stale beer odors" produced by a dog-food factory).
Esquire's Ryan Lizza went to Sibley to investigate the Nunes family's move and its shroud of secrecy and found himself mired in an American gothic small-town mystery, shadowed everywhere he went by Nunes family members in SUVs (he put Gopros in his car and used them to record his watchers, who creepily circled every spot he parked; he was later able to identify them on Facebook).
Lizza spoke to multiple sources who described the town and its dairy industry's dependence on undocumented labor (including multiple sources who claimed direct knowledge of undocumented workers employed on the Nunes family farm), and the town's growing disenchantment with Donald Trump and their Congressman, Steve King (previously) a white supremacist xenophobe who is the Republican's strongest anti-immigration advocate (Sibley is in Osceola County, and was the county's strongest Trump-voting district, going 79% for Trump) (Nunes's father has only ever donated to two federal candidates: his son, and Steve King).
As Lizza chased down the story, his sources showed signs of intimidation. The Nunes family reportedly called a local newspaper and demanded that it remove a nine-year-old article that celebrated the Nunes family's move to Iowa.
On the way back to Sibley, I stopped at Hawkeye Point, the highest elevation (1,670 feet) in Iowa, and flipped through my GoPro videos and pictures, zooming in on the drivers and cars. I clicked over to Facebook and searched for any Nuneses in Sibley, Iowa. I saw some familiar faces. It all started to click. There was the redheaded woman from the muddy white Yukon; she was Devin’s sister-in-law, Lori Nunes. There was the chubby guy with curly hair from the Lantern who had also waved at me from the same Yukon; he was Devin’s brother and Lori’s husband, Anthony Nunes III. There was the woman from the newer Yukon. I zoomed in on a picture of the car’s license plate: nustar. Not very subtle. The driver was Devin’s mother and campaign treasurer, Toni Dian Nunes. The guy in the pickup truck with California plates was, of course, Devin’s dad, Anthony Jr.
I learned that Anthony Jr. was seemingly starting to panic. The next day, the 2009 Dairy Star article about NuStar, the one that made me think the Nuneses were hiding something and that had led me to Sibley in the first place, was removed from the Dairy Star’s website. Anthony Jr., I was told, had called the newspaper and demanded that the editors take the nine-year-old story down. They relented. The article wasn’t captured by the Internet Archive, which provides cached versions of billions of web pages, and it can no longer be found anywhere online. According to someone who talked to him that day, Anthony Jr. allegedly said that he was hiring a lawyer and that he was convinced that his dairy would soon be raided by ICE. (Is it possible the Nuneses have nothing to be seriously concerned about? Of course, but I never got the chance to ask because Anthony Jr. and Representative Nunes did not respond to numerous requests for interviews.)
Devin Nunes’s Family Farm Is Hiding a Politically Explosive Secret [Ryan Lizza/Esquire]