Washington, DC – Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL), voted to authorize subpoenas for Supreme Court influence-peddlers and benefactors Leonard Leo and Harlan Crow. The subpoenas come after investigative reporting revealed Leo’s and Crow’s extensive role in the ongoing corruption crisis at the high court.
Thanks to billionaire benefactor Harlan Crow and matchmaker Leonard Leo, a full-blown corruption crisis has plagued our Supreme Court for months. The Justices’ countless ethics violations — from undisclosed lavish gifts to influence-peddling in elite circles — have caused public trust in the Court to plummet to record lows. But despite growing calls for reform, Chief Justice Roberts has refused to act. With today’s subpoenas, the Judiciary Committee sent a strong message to Leonard Leo and other right-wing power brokers that the corruption on the Court must end. Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Durbin and Senator Whitehouse, we’ve taken a critical step toward accountability — one step closer to ensuring that our high court adheres to the highest possible ethics standards,” said Accountable.US president Caroline Ciccone.
The Republican minority led by Sen. Graham tried desperately to shield Leo and Crow from further investigation by threatening Durbin with “consequences,” offering 177 amendments and several procedural moves. Accountable.US published a report last spring revealing Republican members of the Committee — including Sen. Graham — have collectively received over $450,000 in donations from Harlan Crow.
Earlier, Accountable.US joined partners in calling on the Senate to subpoena key figures involved in the Supreme Court corruption crisis, including Crow and Leo. Ahead of the Supreme Court’s term, Accountable.US led over 40 watchdog and accountability groups in sending a letter to Chief Justice Roberts demanding he ensure conflicted justices recuse themselves from key cases involving Leo, Crow, and other Supreme Court influence-peddlers.
Learn more about Leonard Leo’s central role in the corruption crisis at LeonardLeo.org.
Background on Leonard Leo’s Activities
Leonard Leo has spent decades working to influence the Supreme Court, push the judiciary to the right, and force a radical, unpopular agenda on everyday Americans:
- 2008: Leonard Leo helps to organize a luxury Alaskan vacation with Justice Samuel Alito and Paul Singer, a right-wing megadonor whose hedge fund came before the court at least ten times in the years that followed.
- 2009: Leonard Leo and Ginni Thomas plot with right-wing donors including Harlan Crow to exploit the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which was not released until January 2010. Leo helps Thomas establish Liberty Central, a tea party group working to block President Obama’s agenda.
- 2011-2012: Leonard Leo works with Kellyanne Conway’s firm to route more than $80,000 to Ginni Thomas through Liberty Consulting. Leo wrote that the paperwork should have “no mention of Ginni, of course.”
- 2016: Leonard Leo meets with then-candidate Donald Trump following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Leo was tasked with drawing up a shortlist of Supreme Court nominees, which included Trump’s ultimate nominee Neil Gorsuch.
- 2017: Leo leads the confirmation battle on behalf of Justice Gorsuch, with the Leo-linked Judicial Crisis Network spending more than $10 million on behalf of Gorsuch, after spending an additional $7 million to block Merrick Garland’s nomination. Leo was also working to expand his influence within the administration, helping to finance the multimillion-dollar sale of Kellyanne Conway’s firm The Polling Company.
- 2019: After Trump released an updated shortlist based on Leo’s recommendations including Brett Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh was nominated to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. Leo sent $4 million to Independent Women’s Voice to dispute the allegations against Kavanaugh.
- 2020: After the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Leonard Leo’s network pushed Trump and the Senate to quickly confirm a replacement, despite holding open a Supreme Court seat under similar circumstances just a few years prior. Leo’s Judicial Crisis Network mobilized $10 million, and Barrett was confirmed just eight days before the 2020 election.
- 2020-2022: Leonard Leo’s network shifted its focus to “election integrity,” challenging election laws in 2020 to help make voting safe during the pandemic, and boosting the fringe independent state legislature theory.
- November 2022: Leo shut down his BH Fund just three days after Politico inquired about its role in the purchase of Kellyanne Conway’s company.
- March 2023: A bombshell Politico report revealed that Leonard Leo’s network of nonprofits has been paying out millions to his for-profit consulting firm CRC Advisors. The 85 Fund alone paid out nearly $34 million to CRC Advisors over a two-year period.
- August 2023: DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb launched an investigation into corrupt self-dealing in Leonard Leo’s network. Leo quietly relocates the 85 Fund from the DC-area to Texas.
- October 2023: The Leo-linked Concord Fund spends more than $18 million opposing Ohio’s Issue 1, which enshrined the right to abortion in the state’s constitution.
- November 2023: Leo allies on Capitol Hill including Jim Jordan came to his defense and attacked the DC Attorney General. Politico revealed that Leo’s 85 Fund and other groups like Americans for Public Trust paid out millions more to Leo’s for-profit companies than previously reported.