Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas must be investigated for payments made by billionaire Harlan Crow to pay for Thomas’s grandnephew’s school tuition, in addition to gifts of private travel and luxury vacations and secret property deals, according to a supplemental complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington with the Department of Justice and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Under the Ethics in Government Act, Thomas is required to disclose travel and other gifts, with the source and a brief description, including the value. It appears Justice Thomas violated this law by failing to disclose the tens of thousands of dollars Crow spent to cover the tuition for the Justice’s relative.
“Once again, Justice Thomas’s failure to disclose Harlan Crow’s largesse further impairs public trust in the integrity of the Court as an institution,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder. “The Department of Justice and Chief Justice Roberts should act swiftly and urgently to investigate these latest allegations to determine whether Justice Thomas broke the law when he failed to disclose these payments on his public financial disclosures.”
CREW filed a civil and criminal complaint against Thomas in April after ProPublica reported Thomas failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from and property sales to Crow. CREW also submitted testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging Congress to pass Supreme Court ethics reform in light of the most recent ethics scandals at the high court.
“The nine justices on the Supreme Court should set the standard for ethical conduct, but instead we have a court that acts as though it is above our democracy rather than part of it,” said Bookbinder. “A justice receiving regular and extravagant favors from a wealthy donor, particularly one with longstanding interest in political and judicial issues, and then failing to disclose them as required raises the specter of improper influence and use of office for self-enrichment. Justice Thomas’s repeated abuse of the law undermines the credibility of the court, which can only be restored when he is held accountable and the court establishes a clear code of conduct.”