Devin Nunes’ campaign drops lawsuit against constituents who claimed he was a fake farmer

The campaign for Devin Nunes on Tuesday dropped its lawsuit against the people who accused the Republican congressman of being a “fake farmer” and tried to get his ballot designation removed.

The campaign filed the lawsuit last month in Tulare County Superior Court, alleging the group conspired with “dark money” groups to injure the campaign.

Brian Whelan, a local attorney representing Nunes’ constituents, said in a news release his clients “prevailed and won without having had to square off.” He represents retired farmer Paul Buxman, librarian Hope Nisly and Daniel O’Connell, an agrarian scholar.

Nunes’ lawsuit was an attack on his clients’ rights to free speech and to petition the government, Whelan said.

“Mr. Nunes made a statement that these important rights were to be disregarded when applied to the very powerful,” Whelan said.

Peter Kapetan, a Fresno-based attorney who represented the campaign on the lawsuit, said initially one of the defendants was difficult to locate. He was referring to Michael Seeley, a Los Angeles member of the political group Southern California Americans for Democratic Action.

“We gathered further evidence which supports the plaintiff’s overriding concerns that dark money is being used to influence our elections,” Kapetan said. “Given the new evidence recently discovered, the Nunes campaign committee voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit, and the allegations underlining the lawsuit will be incorporated in a (racketeering) lawsuit filed in Virginia today.”

New Nunes lawsuit

The Daily Caller reported that Nunes filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against two defendants: Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm behind the Steele dossier that outlines alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia; and the Campaign for Accountability, which filed ethics complaints against Nunes.

Kapetan declined to elaborate on what the new evidence is, but he said the investigation conducted by the Nunes campaign may be forwarded to the Department of Justice.

Whelan noted his clients are not named in the new lawsuit. He said that if there was new evidence, the Nunes campaign wouldn’t have dismissed the lawsuit against his clients.

Nunes also is suing social media giant Twitter, the people behind two parody Twitter accounts and McClatchy, The Bee’s parent company.

Related stories from Fresno Bee

Brianna Calix covers politics and investigations for The Bee, where she works to hold public officials accountable and shine a light on issues that deeply affect residents’ lives. She previously worked for The Bee’s sister paper, the Merced Sun-Star, and earned her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State.