Justice Clarence Thomas took trips on a private plane owned by Texas property tycoon Harlan Crow in July 2022, and he spent several days at Crow’s Adirondack estate last summer, as per his yearly financial statement released Thursday.
This disclosure for 2022 sheds light on three travel occasions that Crow facilitated for Thomas. It’s the first such statement from the justice since concerns arose about his ties with the Texas businessman after articles from ProPublica.
Although the 2022 statements were due by mid-May, Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito got a 90-day extension. The reports from the other seven justices came out in early June, but Alito’s and Thomas’ were only released Thursday.
Elliot Berke, Thomas’ attorney, examined the records and reassured that Thomas hadn’t willingly violated any ethical standards. He said any mistakes in earlier reports were accidental. Berke criticized those suggesting that Thomas breached federal ethics regulations, dismissing such claims as defamatory.
According to Berke, deliberate violations imply purposeful neglect. He expressed that the accusations against Justice Thomas are baseless and harmful, and they pave the way for a troubling pattern of political assaults via federal ethics documents. Berke’s firm is collaborating with the Supreme Court and Judicial Conference to see if Thomas should revise earlier submissions.
Justice Thomas’ report reveals:
Crow arranged for transportation, accommodation, meals, or entertainment in February, May, and July 2022.
In February and May, the reason was to be a “keynote speaker at American Enterprise Institute’s Conference at Old Parkland” in Dallas. Thomas took a private flight in February due to an unforeseen ice storm.
He followed the then-prevailing judicial norms for personal hospitality until new rules were issued in March.
Thomas used a private plane from Crow for his May 2022 speech in Dallas due to heightened security concerns after a leak concerning the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade.
He also detailed his travels and stay at Crow’s Adirondack residence, known as Camp Topridge, which was now reportable per new guidelines.
His 2022 report also mentions bank accounts and life insurance policies of his wife, Ginni Thomas, that weren’t listed from 2017 to 2021.
The report also touches upon a 2014 property deal with Crow. Thomas inherited a one-third stake in three properties in 1984. Crow bought these for $133,000 in 2014. Thomas had no net gain from this sale after spending $50,000-$75,000 on home improvements.
Reports from both Thomas and Alito have been keenly awaited as their associations with affluent Republican contributors have made headlines. Thomas has faced scrutiny for his connections with Crow.
Apart from Crow-funded trips, Thomas’ report mentions his honorary membership with the Horatio Alger Association and a $12,000 payment from the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in December 2022. He didn’t receive any notable gifts last year.