Clarence Thomas: Flights by private jet, tuition fee for grandnephew: US Supreme Court Justice Thomas details gifts from billionaire newsbhunt


WASHINGTON: Embattled US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has disclosed a new series of complimentary trips funded by a Texas billionaire.
On Thursday, Justice Thomas, who had previously failed to report luxurious vacations financed by real estate tycoon and Republican donor Harlan Crow, disclosed that he had taken free flights on Crow’s private jet last year for security reasons, particularly after the leak of a contentious Supreme Court decision that overturned abortion rights. He explained in the filing that these private flights were recommended by his security detail for official travel, given the heightened security risk following the Dobbs opinion leak.
Thomas’s official financial disclosure for 2022 was notably more detailed than in previous years. The longest-serving and most conservative Supreme Court justice had not previously reported a free Bali vacation on Crow’s 162-foot yacht and other resort stays sponsored by Crow, as revealed in investigative reports by the ProPublica group.
Supreme Court justices do not have a binding code of ethics, and they have resisted calls for such a code to be imposed by Congress. In the spring, all nine justices signed an ethics statement provided by Chief Justice John Roberts to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite this, Senate Democrats, in a party-line vote, approved legislation in July proposing an ethics code for the court, although it faces substantial hurdles in the Senate and House.
These reports highlighted that since the 2000s, Thomas had accepted numerous free trips and gifts worth tens of thousands of dollars from Crow and other wealthy benefactors. Crow even covered the private school tuition of Thomas’s grandnephew, whom he was raising, and purchased the house where Thomas’s mother resides. Furthermore, Crow donated $500,000 to a conservative lobbying group founded by Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas, with a significant portion allocated to her salary. None of these details were reported in previous financial disclosures, with Thomas citing a “personal hospitality exemption” that purportedly exempted him from reporting gift trips and vacations.
On the 2022 disclosure form, Thomas acknowledged new rules governing travel reporting and expressed his readiness to amend prior-year disclosures if required.
Thomas also provided previously undisclosed information about the transaction that made Crow the owner of his mother’s home. He revealed that Crow purchased the Savannah, Georgia home, along with two neighboring houses, from Thomas and other family members in 2014 for $133,000. Due to the cost of improvements Thomas had made prior to the sale, he reported incurring a capital loss on the transaction and had therefore not reported it earlier.
In response to these developments, Thomas’s personal attorney, Elliot Berke, characterized any errors in Thomas’s previous reports as “strictly inadvertent.” Berke criticized the criticisms against Thomas as “ridiculous and dangerous,” attributing them to “left-wing organizations” motivated by disdain for Thomas’s judicial philosophy.
(With inputs from agencies)


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