.Farm Bureau Is Latest Target in Feds’ Big Napa County Probe

Here’s the latest bombshell in the sprawling, multi-pronged federal investigation right now into Napa County government agencies and the nature of their relationship with powerful local people and entities. The Napa County Farm Bureau, an industry org representing ag interests, just got subpoenaed as well, according to the Press Democrat — along with its super influential political action committee (PAC). Insiders see the Farm Bureau as one of the biggest and most successful players in Napa politics — which is why it was so shocking with the bureau’s CEO, 46-year-old Ryan Klobas, reportedly shot himself to death last month on the side of the road. Along with the bureau itself and its PAC, the U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating “major funders of the Napa County Farm Bureau’s political wing,” the Napa Valley Register reports. “Six winemakers and winemaking concerns — most of them Napa Valley-based — together have given $155,000 to the Fund to Protect Napa Valley Agriculture, a political action committee the Farm Bureau launched in 2019. Those donors appeared in a list of 40 entities that were mentioned in one of three subpoenas the U.S. Department of Justice issued to Napa County in December. … Among those named in the federal subpoena, Caymus Vineyards contributed $60,000 to the Farm Bureau’s PAC in three separate transactions from 2019 to 2021. A Caymus co-founder, Charles J. (Chuck) Wagner, supplied the group another $45,000 from 2022 to 2023.” No one can say what, exactly, the feds are investigating yet — but by the magnitude of these subpoenas, they really seem to think they’re onto something. From the PD: “The DOJ investigation appears to be sprawling, with branches of inquiry that reach into the Upper Valley Waste Management Agency, redevelopment of the Napa County Airport, road pavement projects on Atlas Peak, a controversial — and now scuttled — vineyard project involving Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza, and other prominent agricultural and development interests.” BTW, I talked to Napa radio host Barry Martin about all this on morning-drive radio show — 99.3 The Vine — last Thursday. Going forward, you can tune in Thursday mornings around 9:10 a.m. to hear us chat about all the biggest stuff going down in the Napa Valley. 💥 (Source: Napa Valley Register & Press Democrat & Press Democrat; paywall)

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