California congressional candidate’s family farm walked out on $325,000 owed to workers

SEPTEMBER 26, 2019 07:45 AM

WASHINGTON Former Rep. David Valadao’s family farm has not paid a $325,000 settlement it agreed to with workers who accused the farm of denying them minimum wage and overtime pay.

The case closed without payment to the workers in in April after the dairy declared bankruptcy, according to Santos Gomez, an attorney for the workers, and confirmed by Valadao’s campaign.

The Hanford Republican has said he was not involved with the day-to-day operations of the dairy while he served in the House of Representatives. Documents show Valadao signed for about $6 million in loans to the dairy while he held office.

Valadao lost his seat in 2018 to Democrat T.J. Cox of Fresno by fewer than 1,000 votes. Valadao in July filed paperwork to launch a 2020 campaign challenging Cox.

Valadao’s campaign characterized the workers’ lawsuit as “frivolous” in a written statement to McClatchy.

“No evidence supporting any claim was ever presented.

The dairy settled the lawsuit for a fraction of what the cost would have been to litigate the case in an attempt to preserve jobs and keep the dairy open,” said Andrew Renteria, a spokesman for Valadao’s campaign.

The lawsuit underscores issues for Valadao he will encounter as he tries to retake his congressional seat.

Like Valadao, Cox has a complicated financial history that includes a complaint over failing to pay wages to workers.