POLITICS

Devin Nunes-Linked Winery Faced Suit Over Alleged Coke And Prostitute Yacht Party

The lawmaker is reportedly one of at least 50 investors in the winery, though the company said they were not involved in the party.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is a longtime investor in a winery that was sued in 2016 for auctioning off a yacht party that allegedly involved cocaine and prostitutes, The Fresno Bee reported. 

Alene Anase, a former employee of Alpha Omega Winery, said the company had auctioned a 2015 cruise aboard its yacht for charity. Anase was asked to serve the 25 winning bidders, who were all men, according to court documents the Bee posted online. No owners or investors were on the cruise, the winery told the Bee. 

According to the lawsuit:

“Plaintiff realized that the men had brought prostitutes, hard liquor, and what appeared to be cocaine onto the Yacht. Plaintiff was extremely disturbed by the presence of the prostitutes, especially because it appeared that some of the girls were too young to consent to sexual activity.”

Anase’s lawsuit was eventually settled for an undisclosed amount, according to the Bee. The suit included six allegations, including sexual harassment, emotional distress and retaliation.

The men aboard the yacht “consumed large quantities of alcohol and a white substance Plaintiff understood to be cocaine,” the suit alleged, saying that at least one of the men approached Anase for sexual services and stated that she feared being sexually assaulted. 

According to the lawsuit, when Anase complained, the company’s marketing director allegedly ordered her to “‘lie low’ and try to do as little as possible in order to avoid harassment.”

The suit also claimed that Anase received counseling for psychological trauma, took medication for anxiety and depression, and suffered from panic and sleep problems, all as a result of the cruise.

Wine Business reported on the lawsuit in 2016 and said Alpha Omega Winery had continued to auction cruises for charity after the incident. 

We refined our policies for the charitable donation of the yacht immediately upon learning of the incident and before a lawsuit was filed,” winery spokeswoman Kelly Carter told the website at the time. 

Robin Baggett, whom the Bee describes as a friend of Nunes, owns Alpha Omega Winery. It’s not clear how big of a stake Nunes has in the business, but the Bee reported that he is one of at least 50 investors, investing between $50,000 and $100,000 after selling his dairy farm in 2006 and earning between $2,501 and $5,000 from his investment in 2016. 

The House Intelligence Committee chairman has not spoken much about the winery publicly over the years. However, when Time asked in 2010 what he would be doing if he wasn’t in politics, he said, “I’d be making wine and cheese.” 

He did not comment on the yacht allegations, according to the Bee. 

The Los Angeles Times said Nunes has three main assets: stakes in two wineries (Phase 2 Cellars and Alpha Omega Winery LLC) and a Bank of America savings account. The three are worth a combined $101,000, the outlet noted. 

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