|More on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas through the eyes of ProPublica and Vanity Fair|
“It’s just the height of hypocrisy to wear the robes and live the lifestyle of a billionaire.” -- Don Fox, former general counsel of the United States Office of Government Ethics.
It's not just Harlan Crow bankrolling the Supreme Court Justice's fancy vacations, but a whole cadre of influential right-wing individuals as well. “I said it would get worse; it will keep getting worse…” --Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.
GUEST BLOG / By Eric Lutz, Senior Contributor, Vanity Fair magazine--It’s not just Harlan Crow. It’s not just the wealthy and well-connected he rubs elbows with at the Horatio Alger Association. According to a new ProPublica report, Clarence Thomas has enjoyed at least 38 luxury vacations — including private jet travel and VIP tickets to sporting events — from various conservative benefactors over his decades on the court. And, as with the other Supreme Court side benefits that have already been reported, Thomas does not appear to have disclosed the gifts as required by law.
“It’s so obvious,” former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter told the outlet.
“It all has to be reported.” “It’s just the height of hypocrisy to wear the robes and live the lifestyle of a billionaire,” added Don Fox, former general counsel of the United States Office of Government Ethics.
The dozens of newly-revealed Thomas gifts — whose funders include Crow, the billionaire Texas developer; David Sokol, formerly of Berkshire Hathaway; the late businessman H. Wayne Huizenga; and oil billionaire Paul “Tony” Novelly — further underscore the urgent need for ethics reform at the Supreme Court. “I said it would get worse; it will keep getting worse,” wrote Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a sponsor of the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act.
That bill advanced through the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. But Republicans have dug their heels in against it, casting calls for reform as political attacks on the conservative court, and the court itself has been resistant to change — with Chief Justice John Roberts insisting that the institution could continue to handle matters internally.
The ProPublica report Thursday, however, makes clear that the court should not be left to police itself: Though none of the billionaires named in the piece had business before the court, ProPublica notes that they were all aligned with his judicial philosophy, and began their friendships with him after his ascent to the bench in 1991. The Supreme Court did not return Vanity Fair’s request for comment. Neither Thomas, Novelly, nor the late Huizenga’s son — who is president of the family’s holding company — did not respond to questions from ProPublica. (Thomas has previously denied wrongdoing.)
Sokol, in a lengthy statement to the outlet, suggested Thomas’s private jet travel was necessary for security reasons and defended the conservative justice as “humble and ethical”: “We have never once discussed any pending court matter,” Sokol said.
In other words: There’s nothing to see here — take our word for it. Americans shouldn’t have to do that. But unless and until the dam finally breaks for common sense reform, they’ll have no choice.
MORE FROM PRO PUBLICA: CLICK HERE.
MORE FROM ERIC LUTZ on the Supreme Court in Vanity Fair.
-- “Leonard Leo wants us to believe there was nothing fishy about his fishing trip with Samuel Alito” CLICK HERE.
--“Harlan Crow’s yacht trips with Clarence Thomas now prompting questions around possible tax scam…” CLICK HERE.
--“Clarence Thomas is literally in a club full of exorbitantly wealthy conservatives.” CLICK HERE.
AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING: