Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has become the first member of the Superme Court who has been caught violating to the law. A week after revelations that Thomas lives large because of luxury trips on the private jet and stays at high-end hotels and resorts paid for for by right-wing tea party advocate and GOP megadonor Harlan Crow,
Pro Publica, who found and released the information on Roberts’ use of what many could call bribes from Crow with free private jet trips and paid-for stays at luxury resorts, has also found and disclosed the purchase of the home of his mother byy Crow, who footed the bill for rennovations, and continues to pay for the property where she lives rent free.
The transaction marks the first known instance of money flowing directly from the Republican megadonor to the Supreme Court justice. The Crow company bought the properties for $133,363 from three co-owners — Thomas, his mother and the family of Thomas’ late brother, according to a state tax document and a deed dated Oct. 15, 2014, filed at the Chatham County courthouse.
The purchase put Crow in an unusual position: He now owned the house where the justice’s elderly mother was living. Soon after the sale was completed, contractors began work on tens of thousands of dollars of improvements on the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home, which looks out onto a patch of orange trees. The renovations included a carport, a repaired roof and a new fence and gates, according to city permit records and blueprints.
A federal disclosure law passed after Watergate requires justices and other officials to disclose the details of most real estate sales over $1,000. Thomas never disclosed his sale of the Savannah properties. That appears to be a violation of the law, four ethics law experts told ProPublica.
The disclosure form Thomas filed for that year also had a space to report the identity of the buyer in any private transaction, such as a real estate deal. That space is blank.
“He needed to report his interest in the sale,” said Virginia Canter, a former government ethics lawyer now at the watchdog group CREW. “Given the role Crow has played in subsidizing the lifestyle of Thomas and his wife, you have to wonder if this was an effort to put cash in their pockets.–ProPublica (Used with permission)
The New York Times adds more detail:
The revelation cast greater scrutiny on Justice Thomas, who has long raised eyebrows over questions of conflicts of interest, in part because of the political activism of his wife, Virginia Thomas. The nature of Justice Thomas’s relationship with the real estate magnate has elicited particular attention after ProPublica detailed last week how he accompanied Mr. Crow on lavish trips for nearly 20 years without disclosing them, including island-hopping in Indonesia and staying at Mr. Crow’s 105-acre lakeside retreat in the Adirondack Mountains. The disclosures have fueled calls by Democratic lawmakers and court transparency advocates for the justices to face tighter ethics constraints.
In 2014, a real estate company linked to Mr. Crow bought a single-family home and two vacant lots on a quiet Savannah street, paying $133,363 to Justice Thomas and his family for the property, according to records filed at Chatham County courthouse dated Oct. 15, 2014.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat from Rhode Island, said in a statement that he would call on the policymaking body for the federal courts to refer Justice Thomas to the attorney general for potential violations of government ethics law.
“The Supreme Court justices are so deeply ensconced in a cocoon of special interest money that they can no longer be trusted to police themselves without proper process,” he said, adding that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. should open an ethics investigation into Justice Thomas’s financial ties to Mr. Crow and his “apparent brazen disregard for disclosure laws.”
The net worth of Justice Thomas and his wife is unclear. What is known is pieced together from financial disclosures, which are filed by the justices. His disclosures did not list recent gifts, travel or the land purchase by Mr. Crow. Associate justices like Justice Thomas make an annual salary of $285,400. Chief Justice Roberts makes $298,500.
Mr. Crow has long had a foothold in conservative causes. He is a trustee of the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation and gave $500,000 to a group that sought to build public support for Mr. Bush’s Supreme Court picks. He also reportedly donated $500,000 when Ms. Thomas founded a Tea Party-related group several years ago.
In 2004, The Los Angeles Times documented a number of gifts the justice received from Mr. Crow, including a Bible once owned by the abolitionist Frederick Douglass and a bust of Abraham Lincoln valued at $15,000.
Mr. Crow helped finance a library project in Savannah dedicated to the justice. Initially, he anonymously gave $150,000 to renovate a Carnegie Library. It had been the only library in the city that welcomed Black people, and the justice has described the hours he spent there as a child.
In 2011, The Times reported that Mr. Crow had secretly poured millions of dollars into the purchase and restoration of a cannery in Pin Point, where Justice Thomas spent the first six years of his life. The town, in coastal lowlands, was a place where freed slaves built livelihoods by harvesting shrimp, oysters and crabs.
Since then, Justice Thomas stopped reporting gifts and travel, but his relationship with Mr. Crow continued.–The New York Times (Used With Permission)
Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word on MSNBC had more than a few things to say about Thomas and his illegal stunts:
Thomas has been a controversial figure since his nomination to the Supreme Court by then President George W. Bush. Remember the “pubic hair found on a can of Coke?” Anita Hill, who charged Thomas with seuxal harassment does remember the hearings on his confirmation:
During the televised hearings, which lasted three days, Anita F. Hill, who then taught at the University of Oklahoma’s law school, detailed allegations of workplace sexual harassment by Judge Thomas, who was her supervisor at two government agencies. And Judge Thomas forcefully denied the accusations, claiming they played into stereotypes of black men.
The astonishing testimony aired Ms. Hill’s accounts of crude behavior and vulgar language, the likes of which had never before been discussed in the buttoned-up hearing rooms of the United States Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s dismissive treatment of Ms. Hill by the all-male, all-white Senate Judiciary Committee empowered a wave of women to run for state and national office.
Ms. Hill, who was then 35, first testified before the committee on Oct. 11, 1991. Speaking in a calm, even tone, she detailed her accusations of sexual harassment by Judge Thomas, who oversaw her work at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Ms. Hill said that Judge Thomas had repeatedly asked her to go out with him in a social capacity and would not take no for an answer. She said he would talk about sex in vivid detail, describing pornography he had seen involving women with large breasts, women having sex with animals, group sex and rape scenes.
Judge Thomas would also talk about his own “sexual prowess” in workplace conversations, Ms. Hill said. And he once mentioned a pornographic film whose star was called “Long Dong Silver,” which turned into an infamous name in American political lore.
“It would have been more comfortable to remain silent,” she said. “But when I was asked by a representative of this committee to report my experience, I felt that I had to tell the truth. I could not keep silent.”
After Ms. Hill’s opening statement, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Delaware Democrat who was then chairman of the committee, began questioning her on the specific locations of her harassment allegations. She mentioned the “incident of the Coke can,” which — as she had described a half-hour earlier — involved Judge Thomas asking her who had put pubic hair on his can of cola.
Mr. Biden asked, “Can you describe it, once again, for me please?”
After a sigh, Ms. Hill did.–Julia Jacobs, New York Times, June 20, 2018
A new poll from The Economist and YouGov finds thae nearly 60% of Americans find “something objectionable” in what Thomas has done and are concerned about the line between his jurisprudence and his personal life.
Thomas’ behavior and the new revelations about Crow buying one of his hones and spending even more for proerties tied to Thomas is bringing calls for an investigation by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Many of us who have watched Thomas treat his posiiton on the Supreme Court as a personal ATM and his abuse of the law applaud any amd all attempts to rid the court of another jackal who preys on our government and its democracy.
Throw the bastard out, along with his hardcore right-wing activist wife. Consider it the start of a long-overdue purge.
And, let’s throw out his Coke can and the pubic hair.
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(Edited to correct an unacceptable number of typos in the original text. My apologies to readers.)