Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., will resign from Congress to become chief executive of former President Donald Trump’s fledgling social media company next month, the group said Monday.
Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, will start as CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group, or TMTG, in January, the firm said in a press release.
Nunes, who boasts being a dairy farmer, will begin his new career despite having no apparent prior experience working in the tech industry or as an executive.
The press release came hours after documents revealed that the special purpose acquisition company — or SPAC — that plans to merge with Trump’s company is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC and another regulator had asked the SPAC, Digital World Acquisition Corp. or DWAC, for information about the lead-up to the deal with TMTG being announced.
Shares of DWAC rose more than 7% in after-hours trading following the announcement that Nunes had been tapped to lead TMTG.
Nunes is just the second member of the 117th Congress to resign before the end of his term. If the GOP regains majority control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections, Nunes would have been in line to become chairman of the powerful, tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
“I’m humbled and honored President Trump has asked me to lead the mission and the world class team that will deliver on this promise,” Nunes said in the press release.
A spokesman for the congressman did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Nunes, 48, has represented California’s 22nd congressional district in the San Joaquin Valley since 2003. The San Joaquin Valley Sun, which first reported Nunes’ departure from Congress, noted that California’s redistricting maps showed Nunes may have faced a tougher reelection fight in 2022.
Nunes led the House Intelligence Committee from 2015 to 2019, when Republicans controlled the chamber. He garnered a reputation as a staunch defender of Trump’s during the special counsel probe of Russian election interference and possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, and later during Trump’s first impeachment in the House.
In his final month in office, and just two days before the deadly Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol, Trump awarded Nunes the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Nunes was one of the 147 House Republicans who voted to challenge President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory after the pro-Trump mob had been cleared out of the building.
Trump’s company has shared generic, thinly detailed plans to launch a platform called “Truth Social,” which it presents as a future competitor of Twitter and other social media giants. Two days earlier, TMTG and DWAC announced an agreement to raise $1 billion in “committed capital” from a group of unnamed investors in a so-called PIPE, or private investment in public equity, that would be received once the two firms consummated their deal.
Nunes’ own biography on his congressional website shows little experience in his pre-congressional career that would clearly transfer to the work of a tech CEO.
His bio notes he worked from childhood on a family farm, and that he bought farmland with his brother after starting a harvesting business with savings he accumulated from raising cattle as a teenager.
Nunes graduated from California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business and a master’s degree in agriculture. Before running for Congress, then-President George W. Bush in 2001 tapped Nunes to serve as California’s director of rural development for the federal Department of Agriculture.