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Congressional ethics office gets new complaints about Nunes' wine business, financial disclosures

Mackenzie Mays, The Fresno Bee on

Published in Political News

FRESNO, Calif. -- Two organizations sent letters to the Office of Congressional Ethics Wednesday demanding an investigation into Rep. Devin Nunes' business investments.

The Campaign for Accountability alleged that Nunes, a California Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, may have violated federal law by leaving out information on his financial disclosure forms.

In the complaint, the left-leaning federal government watchdog group in Washington, D.C., questions the congressman's affiliation with three California companies and whether he deliberately omitted information about his investments or failed to report any financial gifts he received from the companies' owners.

The complaint points to his investment in Alpha Omega, a Napa County winery listed as one of his primary assets, that he reported he purchased a piece of in 2006 for between $50,001 and $100,000 but receives little income from each year "despite (the winery's) apparent success."

The complaint also takes issue with Nunes' reported investment in Phase 2 Cellars -- also owned by San Luis Obispo vintner Ken Baggett -- because it is less than what other investors in the company were required to pay, according to a contract obtained by Campaign for Accountability.

A spokeswoman for Alpha Omega released a brief statement about the new complaint on Wednesday. "It's quite common for our investors to purchase partial shares, which is what Mr. Nunes has done," Kelly Carter, director of communications, said in an email.

Another issue: Vidonia LLC, a financial holding company that was in business between 2006 and 2009, listed Nunes and his wife as beneficial owners, but none of Nunes' disclosure forms mention the company.

The complaint points to the House ethics manual, which says that all members of the House must conduct themselves at all times in a manner that reflects credibly of the House.

"This rule has been relied on by the ethics committee in numerous prior cases in which the committee found unethical conduct including the failure to report campaign contributions; making false statements to the committee, criminal convictions for bribery or accepting illegal gratuities and accepting gifts from persons with interest in legislation in violation of the gift rule," the complaint says.

Also on Wednesday, a complaint against Nunes was filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics by the Swamp Accountability Project, an anti-Trump group in D.C. vowing to go after both political parties that do wrong.

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