Justice Clarence Thomas Says He Was Told Luxury Trips With Billionaire Donor Did Not Need to Be Reported

Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for an official portrait in 2022.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for an official portrait in 2022.Getty

In 2019, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni took a lavish vacation to Indonesia with Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, the critical ProPublica report said. Thomas also regularly travels on Crow's private jet, the report stated.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is breaking his silence and says he has “always sought to comply with the disclosure guidelines” in a rare statement after a newly released ProPublica report detailed the numerous luxury gifts and vacations he received from billionaire Republican megadonor Harlan Crow. The gifts and vacations allegedly went undisclosed, the ProPublica report said.

“Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary,” Thomas said. “I have endeavored to follow that counsel throughout my tenure, and have always sought to comply with the disclosure guidelines.”

The statement released through the Supreme Court’s public information office is one of few comments Thomas has made to the public in his 32-year tenure in the nation’s highest court.

It comes amid allegations he accepted lavish vacations to Indonesia on a superyacht, regular trips on Crow’s private jet and annual retreats to the Dallas-based real estate tycoon’s private lakeside resort Camp Topridge in upstate New York’s Adirondacks region, according to ProPublica’s report.

“Harlan and Kathy Crow are among our dearest friends, and we have been friends for over twenty-five years. As friends do, we have joined them on a number of family trips during the more than quarter century we have known them,” Thomas explained in his statement.

Per new regulations implemented last month, Supreme Court justices and all federal judges are now required to disclose stays at commercial properties like hotels, ski resorts and corporate hunting lodges and must report all travel by private jet, according to the Washington Post.

Previously, each branch of government was responsible for determining its own standards surrounding gift receiving. While the previous rules in place prohibited judges from accepting gifts from anyone with business before the court, there was previously an exemption for gifts considered “personal hospitality,” the Post reported.

The recent revisions to the regulations come after new scrutiny over the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s travel on private jets and free vacations to hunting resorts, according to the Post.

While the “personal hospitality” exemption still exists, its definition has been more clearly defined in the recent regulations, and Thomas said in his statement that he “was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the court, was not reportable,” the statement read.

But the alleged actions by Thomas continue to draw scrutiny from Democrats. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said in a statement “this behavior is simply inconsistent with the ethical standards the American people expect of any public servant, let alone a Justice on the Supreme Court,” and vowed action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The criticism comes amid other controversy surrounding Thomas and his wife Ginni. Ginni, a conservative activist, is a prominent proponent of the untrue theory the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

Ginni texted Trump’s then-chief of staff Mark Meadows in the days after the election, calling Trump’s loss an “obvious fraud” and a “coup,” and urged officials in Arizona and Wisconsin to overturn the election, according to a report obtained by CBS News and the Washington Post.

Ginni was interviewed by the January 6 committee last September and said she and her husband never discussed the result of the 2020 election, according to the Guardian.

Clarence, who has a deeply conservative background, is currently the longest standing justice on the Supreme Court.

Over the last few decades, Crow has donated more than $10 million in publicly disclosed political contributions to Republican groups, and more to groups that keep their groups secret, ProPublica’s report stated.

Crow told ProPublica that he and his wife “never sought to influence Justice Thomas on any legal or political issue." He also said he has never lobbied Thomas during their vacations together, and “would never invite anyone who I believe have any intention of doing that,” according to ProPublica.

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