Billionaire benefactor’s interests got a boost from friend on nation’s highest court
WASHINGTON, DC – When news broke of Justice Clarence Thomas’s decades-worth of undisclosed luxury gifts and travel from billionaire benefactor Harlan Crow, Thomas claimed the gifts were above board because Crow had no business before the Court. Today, new reporting from HuffPost revealed that in fact, Crow’s financial interests as a real estate owner, landlord and commercial, residential and industrial developer have come before Justice Thomas on the Court.
From secret luxury travel to full on property sales, we know Justice Thomas scored big from his cozy relationship with conservative billionaire Harlan Crow. But now, we're seeing just how Crow's interests have gotten a boost from a friend on the nation's highest court. Over decades, these two have maintained a highly problematic financial relationship that has facilitated what looks like corruption at the highest levels. Thomas, Crow, and everyone involved must be held accountable."
Accountable.US president Kyle Herrig.
“When news broke that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas enjoyed hundreds of thousands of dollars in luxury vacations, private yacht and jet travel, proceeds from the sale of his ancestral home, and numerous other gifts from billionaire real estate magnate Harlan Crow, the justice proclaimed that he had done nothing wrong by arguing, among other things, that Crow “did not have business before the Court.
It is true that Crow, who took over his father Trammell Crow’s business Crow Holdings Inc. in 1988, has not himself been a party in a case before the Supreme Court. But that doesn’t mean his financial interests as a real estate owner, landlord and commercial, residential and industrial developer haven’t come before the Supreme Court over the course of Thomas’ 31-year tenure.”
“To sum up Crow’s largesse to Thomas and his family, the billionaire has: taken Thomas on a $500,000 vacation in Indonesia that made use of Crow’s superyacht and private jet; provided use of his private jet repeatedly over the past 25 years; welcomed Thomas every year at Crow’s summer home in the Adirondacks; invited Thomas to the all-male exclusive retreat Bohemian Grove; purchased Thomas’ ancestral home from the justice and his mother and paid for renovations while Thomas’ mother still lives there rent-free; donated $105,000 to Yale Law School for the Justice Thomas Portrait Fund; gifted Thomas a $19,000 Bible owned by Frederick Douglass and a $15,000 bust of Abraham Lincoln; provided $500,000 to fund a Tea Party group run by Thomas’ wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, which helped pay her $120,000 salary; spent more than $2 million to finance a heritage museum at the site of a cannery where Thomas’ mother worked; and paid $150,000 to create a Clarence Thomas wing at Savannah, Georgia’s Carnegie Library.”
‘“You combine all of these things together and you reach the point of saying, ‘This is troubling,’” [Charles] Geyh, [a judicial ethics expert at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law] said. “And you come back to the original question: Would a judge concerned about the ethics of behavior and concerned about the appearances of his behavior, would he get himself into a relationship of this kind to begin with that generated all of these ripple effects that you’re looking at?’”
Accountable.US has called for immediate accountability for all involved in this highly problematic financial relationship. The organization released a full timeline tracking how Clarence and Ginni Thomas benefited from Crow over decades, and previously released new research revealing that Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have collectively received over $450,000 in donations from Harlan Crow himself. Accountable.US also fact-checked Clarence Thomas’s defensive statement and highlighted the Leonard Leo link to this example of unprecedented corruption.