Thursday, April 06, 2023

Justice Thomas accepted luxury travel for years from GOP donor, report says. (WaPo)

It's time for Justice Clarence Thomas to testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee, or else resign or be prosecuted.  His acceptance of millions of dollars worth of lavish hospitality from HARLAN CROW appears to me to be unseemly, and perhaps possibly illegal, immoral and corrupt. Enough. From The Washington Post: 

Justice Thomas accepted luxury travel for years from GOP donor, report says

5 min
Add to your saved stories

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted luxury trips around the globe for more than two decades, including travel on a superyacht and private jet, from a prominent Republican donor without disclosing them, according to a new report.

ProPublica reported Thursday on an array of trips funded by Harlan Crow, a Dallas businessman. The publication said Thomas typically spends about a week every summer at Crow’s private resort in the Adirondacks. It said the justice also has vacationed at Crow’s ranch in East Texas and has joined Crow at the Bohemian Grove, an exclusive all-male retreat in California.

ProPublica cited a nine-day trip that Thomas and his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, took to Indonesia in 2019, shortly after the court released its final opinions of the term. That trip, which included flights on Crow’s jet and island-hopping on a superyacht, would have cost the couple more than $500,000, if they had paid for it themselves, the publication said.

Neither the Supreme Court nor Thomas responded immediately to questions about the report on Thursday morning. ProPublica said Thomas did not respond to questions about its reporting.

In a statement, Crow acknowledged that he has extended “hospitality” to the Thomases “over the years” but said the couple “never asked for any of this hospitality” and that he has not tried to influence the justice on matters before the court.

“We have never asked about a pending or lower court case, and Justice Thomas has never discussed one, and we have never sought to influence Justice Thomas on any legal or political issue,” Crow said. “More generally, I am unaware of any of our friends ever lobbying or seeking to influence Justice Thomas on any case, and I would never invite anyone who I believe had any intention of doing that. These are gatherings of friends.”

Federal law mandates that top officials from the three branches of government, including the Supreme Court, file annual forms detailing their finances, outside income and spouses’ sources of income, with each branch determining its own reporting standards.

Judges are prohibited from accepting gifts from anyone with business before the court. Until recently, however, the judicial branch had not clearly defined an exemption for gifts considered “personal hospitality.”

Revised rules adopted by a committee of the Judicial Conference, the courts’ policymaking body, seek to provide a fuller accounting. The rules took effect March 14.

Gifts such as an overnight stay at a personal vacation home owned by a friend remain exempt from reporting requirements. But the revised rules require disclosure when judges are treated to stays at commercial properties, such as hotels, ski resorts or corporate hunting lodges. The changes also clarify that judges must report travel by private jet.

According to ProPublica, Thomas’s trips funded by Crow do not appear on his financial disclosures.

The ProPublica report prompted renewed calls from Democrats for the Supreme Court to adopt a strict ethics code that would include a process for investigating alleged misconduct, as well as some calls for Thomas to resign.

“This cries out for the kind of independent investigation that the Supreme Court — and only the Supreme Court, across the entire government — refuses to perform,” tweeted Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who has sponsored legislation that would direct the court to adopt an ethics code.

“Is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas corrupt? I don’t know,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a member of the House leadership team, said in a tweet. “But his secretive actions absolutely have the appearance of corruption. … For the good of the country, he should resign.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who has previously called for Thomas to step down, renewed her call Thursday, saying “[t]his degree of corruption is shocking — almost cartoonish.”

While the wide scope of Crow’s funding of Thomas’s travel has not been previously reported, the largesse directed at the justice by the billionaire donor has provoked controversy previously.

In 2011, the New York Times reported that Crow had done many favors for Thomas and his wife, notably financing the multimillion-dollar purchase and restoration of a cannery in Pin Point, Ga., that was a pet project of the justice.

The Times also reported that Crow helped finance a Savannah, Ga., library project dedicated to Thomas, presented him with a Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass and reportedly provided $500,000 for Ginni Thomas to start a tea-party-related group.

Thomas, who joined the court in 1991, has drawn scrutiny on other ethical issues in recent years, several related to the political activism of his wife. She has been allied with numerous people and groups that have interests before the court, and she has dedicated herself to right-wing causes involving some of the most polarizing issues in the country.

Ginni Thomas privately pressed then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to pursue efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election, and she sent emails urging swing-state lawmakers to set aside Joe Biden’s popular-vote victory in awarding electoral votes. When those efforts were revealed by The Post last year, they intensified questions about whether her husband should recuse himself from cases related to the election and attempts to subvert it.

The Post also reported last month that a little-known conservative activist group led by Ginni Thomas collected nearly $600,000 in anonymous donations to wage a cultural battle against the left over three years. The previously unreported donations to the fledgling group Crowdsourcing for Culture and Liberty were channeled through a right-wing think tank in Washington that agreed to serve as a funding conduit from 2019 until the start of last year, according to documents and interviews.

Jonathan O’Connell, Ann E. Marimow, Shawn Boburg and Emma Brown contributed to this report.

By John Wagner is a national reporter on The Post's new breaking political news team. He previously covered the Trump White House. During the 2016 presidential election, he focused on the Democratic campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. He also chronicled Maryland government for more than a decade. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

He's a partisan politician with conservative ideology on the bench. He said he would make liberals lives misrable over the Anita Hill hearing. Motivated by revenge, he shouldn't be on the bench, nor should Kavanaugh and Phoney Barrett because they lied about Roe and were confirmed as a result. Obama should have been able to appoint justices as it was, but he was deprived due to political greed and unsportsmanlike conduct on the part of Republicans. So we don't want to hear about Trump being prosecuted because they started it during Obama. The undermining, the racism, the dirty politics, and other animal behavior.