Devin Nunes announces his exit from Congress at the end of 2021 after 19 years, expected to become CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group
VISALIA – Devin Nunes’ almost two decade stint as a valley congressman has all but come to an end. He has opted to hang up his career in public service to work for former President Donald Trump’s new media company as CEO.
Before the cadre of candidates file in to take over, each with their own preening sure to come, there are some key things left unsettled. Such as what happens now? In particular during an election year where a new district is yet to be formed.
For starters, according to state law the governor “shall issue a proclamation, within 14 calendar days of the occurrence of the vacancy, [and call] a special election.” Nunes’ statement doesn’t set an exact date when he’ll be leaving office, leaving a special election date unclear.
“Recently, I was presented with a new opportunity to fight for the most important issues I believe in. I’m writing to let you know I’ve decided to pursue this opportunity, and therefore I will be leaving the House of Representatives at the end of 2021,” a Dec. 6 press release from Nunes’ office states.
Still, according to state law, a special election to fill a vacancy for Congress, “shall be conducted on a Tuesday at least 126 days, but not more than 140 days, following the issuance of an election proclamation by the governor.”
There is a carve out in the law that states an election for congress could be conducted within 200 days following the governor’s proclamation, “in order to consolidate the election or the primary election with an election occurring wholly or partially within the same territory where the vacancy exists.” But it is unclear whether that applies because candidates for Nunes seat will be running to represent the current 22nd Congressional District of California, and not the district it is going to become.
Redistricting in California is already underway and final district maps have to be certified by the California Secretary of State by Dec. 27. The district that Nunes represents until the end of the year—and who ever will represent it after him until next December—may drastically change according to current map proposal. Instead of the district’s urban center being Visalia, the newly proposed district includes all of the city of Fresno, as well as Selma, Reedley, Sanger and Kingsburg in Fresno County and the cities of Dinuba, Tulare, Exeter, Farmersville, Lindsay and Woodlake. And then splits Visalia.
If that map is certified by the Secretary of State, the political lean from Republican to Democrat could be quite severe. Whoever succeeds Nunes will represent the current congressional district until next December after the 2022 midterm election, but could also run for the newly formed district as well, perhaps as an incumbent if they live in the district. Representatives do not have to live in the districts they represent.
Meanwhile, candidates not seeking to succeed Nunes may wait until the new district is certified, and spend all of their campaign cash on the 2022 primary instead of dividing their efforts to attempt to win a special election for a district that won’t exist in less than a year.
Practically in tandem the Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) announced on Dec. 6 that Nunes was selected to the join the company as its chief executive officer. Among other things TMTG is expected to host a new social media platform titled “TRUTH.”
“Congressman Devin Nunes is a fighter and a leader. He will make an excellent CEO of TMTG. Devin understands that we must stop the liberal media and Big Tech from destroying the freedoms that make America great. America is ready for TRUTH Social and the end to censorship and political discrimination,” Trump stated per a TMTG press release.
Nunes commented on the press release stating that “the time has come to reopen the Internet and allow for the free flow of ideas and expression without censorship.” The press release, nor Nunes, go on to specify what they mean by censorship.
Statements on the site state they’re fighting against “Silicon Valley, the mainstream media, and Big Tech,” charging that media has “swung dangerously far to the left.” The web site goes on to state that, “Big Tech platforms demonetize, throttle, and cancel those who stray from the mainstream narrative. They are not just censoring content—they are determining what can and cannot be said.”
Of course social media and Silicon Valley, in particular Twitter, is what gave Trump his celebrity status. For the whole of his presidency Trump used Twitter with impunity to spread misinformation, insults and outright lies. None larger than the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and that Biden was not duly elected president.
Trump continued to peddle damaging information like doctored film that went viral online when a Pennsylvania poll worker in Delaware County appeared to be filling out a blank ballot. The video was posted from authentic video footage with a man saying, “This lady is marking the ballots. I filmed her a half hour ago doing six and she’s still working at it.” The video went viral when Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk shared the video on his live stream after it was sent in by a viewer.
What wasn’t shared at the time, and what USA Today fact checkers investigated, were the bipartisan observers who were 6 feet away but cropped out of the video. As well, also according to USA Today, the poll worker was fixing ballots damaged by a machine extractor which would not have been able to scan the ballot at all.
Stories like that circulated the depths of the largest social media platforms, and even smaller platforms like Parler. And 14 days leading up to President Biden’s inauguration, a Trump rally outside the White House turned violent when the crowd stormed the capitol, killing five people and injuring 138 police officers. Trump was swiftly banned on social media shortly thereafter. Parler was also quickly deplatformed.
Since Jan. 6, 2021, misinformation has only continued to spread over social media platforms. Most notably over the COVID-19 vaccine, which has ground progress against the pandemic to a halt, and drawing criticism from government agencies.
What TMTG, and Nunes can bring to online discourse is currently unclear, but not very promising when it comes to truth.