The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), has been under intense criticism amidst charges of obstructing the very investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign that he’s supposed to be leading.
Both Democrats and even some staunch Republicans have called on Nunes, who was a member of the Trump transition team, to step down from his position leading the committee’s probe because of his leaking of confidential intelligence info to the subjects of his investigation and his own newly-revealed financial ties to Russia.
Just last week, The Los Angeles Times revealed the details of Nunes’ net worth, disclosing that the vast majority of his money is tied up in an investment in the Alpha Omega Winery LLC.
If you happened to have visited the website of the Napa Valley-based vineyard before the story broke, the site clearly listed the Luding Trading Company, a major Russian alcohol distributor, as the winemaker’s outlet in Russia.
Once the news of Nunes’ investment became public knowledge, however, Alpha Omega Winery suddenly removed Luding Trading Company’s name from their website. They also tweeted out a claim that their only business with Russia consisted of the one-time sale of 22 cases of wine to an un-named broker.
The only time Alpha Omega did business in Russia was in 2013 when a broker handled a one-time transaction for 22 cases of wine.
— Alpha Omega Winery (@AOwinery) March 23, 2017
A visit to the website of Luding Trading Company tells a different story altogether. A 2009 Alpha Omega Cabernet Sauvignon is clearly listed as available to purchase, as is a 2012 vintage Chardonnay that was surely still sitting in a barrel waiting to be bottled when the 2013 transaction allegedly took place.
Besides both of these wines from Alpha Omega, Luding Trading also offers their own Kremlin Award brand cognac, a brand name that the company licensed directly from the Russian government.
To give you an idea of just how involved Luding Trading Company is with the Russsian government, it would be helpful to note that the company’s management was awarded the order of “The Star Of The Fatherland” with the First Deputy Chief of Administrative Services of the President of the Russian Federation, and representatives of the Administration of the President, State Duma, and Council of Federation present.
While none of this is beyond the scope of ordinary business, the seeming attempt to deny all the already existing ties to Russian companies–along with the fact that Nunes’ investment in this vineyard represents 98% of his net worth–raises considerable doubts about Nunes ability to conduct an impartial investigation.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.