Shameless Corruption on the Supreme Court

I have written about this before. See The Stench From the Bench,, mainly about the conservative icon Antonin Scalia, Justice Alito’s Masquerade,, and now, yet again, we have Clarence Thomas.

I begin with the observation that, in its most recent reporting about Clarence Thomas’ corruption, USAToday has tried to divert the issue into a problem for President Biden. Consider the headline: “Following furor over GOP-donor luxury trips, Joe Biden reckons with another Clarence Thomas scandal.” The first five paragraphs are about the mishandling of the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in 1991. After a brief reference to the latest revelations that Thomas has been taking “lavish trips from a billionaire Republican donor for more than 20 years without disclosing them, a possible violation of federal law,” the article returns to the confirmation hearings and the criticism of Biden for allowing the abuse of Anita Hill who testified to Thomas’s sexual harassment of her.

The author finally gets around to noting that then-Senator Biden voted against confirming Thomas but deflects quickly to reciting that Hill refused to accept Biden’s later expressions of regret. In a minor bit of irony, Thomas was also unforgiving.

In that regard, Thomas shares much with Donald Trump. He never forgives, never forgets, every slight against him. And he remained silent while his wife worked to overturn the 2020 election. The author states that Ginni Thomas tried to cover her tracks with this statement:

“You know, it was an emotional time,” she said in explaining the text messages to Meadows. “I’m sorry these texts exist.”

No doubt, she is sorry the messages exist. Not sorry that they were sent, mind you, just that they exist and were discovered. Like fingerprints on the murder weapon the killer always regrets. She’s still a Trumper, election conspiracist and avowed supporter of the January 6 insurrection. And Clarence Thomas: silent, just as he was about the trips. For 20 years. And no one noticed.

If you read my prior posts, you know that Thomas is not the first Justice of the High Court to enjoy this largesse. Scalia was a major taker. But, no worries, these “gifts” never had any bearing on the decisions of these jurists.

We now know that “Justice” Thomas has accepted extravagant gifts from a billionaire GOP megadonor for two decades and failed to report them. These weren’t just expensive ties or Godiva chocolates at Christmas. They included vacations on his benefactor’s superyacht and trips on his private jet as well as a week each summer at his pal’s private resort in the Adirondacks.

  In an act of extreme tone-deafness, reeking with irony, Thomas’s billionaire benefactor said, “he and his wife’s “hospitality” to Thomas and his wife “is no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends.”

No doubt it was no different. I take care of you, and you take care of what I care about. That’s how political contributions tend to work. If it were otherwise, people with lots of money would not make big money contributions to politicians. There is no reason to think the usual rule did not apply to Thomas and his benefactor. Thomas has a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. That Thomas purportedly did not understand his higher obligation for full disclosure is beyond astonishing. I think he understood it perfectly but decided not to comply because he didn’t think anyone would force him to do so.

Thomas has said that he was advised by … unnamed people … that disclosure of his billionaire friend’s largesse was not required.

Not required? Even if true, and that seems absurd, Thomas had an obligation to avoid even the appearance of conflict. His decision stinks of dishonesty.

There is more. We learned recently that the same billionaire benefactor bought property from Thomas, “the first knowninstance of money flowing from the Republican megadonor to the Supreme Court justice. And these were not just any old real estate parcels Thomas happened to own. Thomas’s mother lived in the house on one of the parcels involved. Thomas’s benefactor.

Federal law (5 U.S. Code § 13104) requires the reporting of such a transaction. Curiously, shortly after the sale major improvements to the mother’s house were initiated by the buyer. According to the reporting,

Crow still owns Thomas’ mother’s home, which the now-94-year-old continued to live in through at least 2020, according to public records and social media. Two neighbors told ProPublica she still lives there.

Crow’s company pays the property taxes formerly paid by the Thomases.

Unsurprisingly, “Thomas did not respond to detailed questions” about the transactions.

“Harlan and Kathy Crow are among our dearest friends,” Thomas wrote. “As friends do, we have joined them on a number of family trips.” Crow told ProPublica that his gifts to Thomas were “no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends.”

Interestingly, Thomas signed the sale paperwork personally, according to reporting. While his financial reports for the year of his Supreme Court appointment are very detailed but he failed to reveal at any time his trips at his benefactor’s expense nor the sale of the properties.

The latest sordid revelation about Clarence Thomas’s financial affairs, reported in the Washington Post,, indicates he has reported receipt of,

rental income totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a firm called Ginger, Ltd., Partnership. But that company — a Nebraska real estate firm launched in the 1980s by his wife and her relatives — has not existed since 2006. That year, the family real estate company was shut down and a separate firm was created, state incorporation records show. The similarly named firm assumed control of the shuttered company’s land leasing business, according to property records. Since that time, however, Thomas has continued to report income from the defunct company — between $50,000 and $100,000 annually in recent years — and there is no mention of the newer firm, Ginger Holdings, LLC, on the forms.

Thomas is well-practiced at evading discovery of his financial activities.

In 2011, after the watchdog group Common Cause raised red flags, Thomas updated years of his financial disclosure reports to include employment details for his wife, conservative activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas. The justice said at the time that he had not understood the filing instructions. In 2020, he was forced to revise his disclosure forms after a different watchdog group found he had failed to report reimbursements for trips to speak at two law schools.

Sure. Thomas did not understand the filing instructions. Sure. And being a member of the Supreme Court, he doesn’t know how to get good advice about disclosure requirements. And there’s this:

Ginni Thomas earned more than $686,000 from the conservative Heritage Foundation from 2003 until 2007, according to the nonprofit’s tax forms. Clarence Thomas checked a box labeled “none” for his wife’s income during that period. He had done the same in 2008 and 2009 when she worked for conservative Hillsdale College.

Thomas acknowledged the error when he amended those filings in 2011. He wrote that the information had been “inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.”

In some years before those omissions, however, Thomas had correctly reported his wife’s employment….

Thomas also did not report reimbursement for transportation, meals and lodging while teaching at the universities of Kansas and Georgia in 2018. After the omission was flagged by the nonprofit Fix the Court, Thomas amended his filing for that year. He also amended his 2017 filing, on which he had left off similar reimbursements while teaching at Creighton Law School, his wife’s alma mater.

Until forced to do so by journalists digging for the truth, it seems clear “Justice” Thomas cannot be trusted to comply with financial disclosure laws. How then can he be trusted to make honest decisions on the Supreme Court?

The latest: CNN reports that Thomas will, yet again, amend his financial reports to disclose the real estate transactions.

Too little, too late.

Thomas is a disgrace to the High Court and should just step down.

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