Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas must be investigated for his failure to properly disclose a series of expensive travel gifts that he accepted from billionaire and political mega-donor Harlan Crow, 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. 

According to newly released documentation provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee by Mr. Crow’s own attorney, Justice Thomas failed to disclose three private jet trips which took place in May 2017, March 2019 and June 2021. Additionally, Justice Thomas failed to disclose the private jet and yachting portions of 2019 trips to and from Indonesia and Santa Rosa, California, which are estimated to be worth at least $500,000. These reporting failures occurred despite Justice Thomas recently amending his 2019 public financial disclosure report on May 15, 2024 to include apparently related food and lodging entries that were provided by Mr. Crow. 

CREW previously filed a civil and criminal complaint against Justice Thomas in April 2023 after ProPublica reported that he failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from and property sales to Mr. Crow. Justice Thomas’s continued disregard for financial disclosure regulations necessitates a full investigation into these and any other undisclosed gifts given to  Thomas or his spouse, in order to preserve public confidence in the Supreme Court.

An investigation into Justice Thomas’s reporting failures would not only confirm whether he violated his statutory reporting obligations but also whether these travel-related gifts were permitted to be accepted under 5 U.S.C. § 7353 and the Judicial Conference Gift Regulations, which prohibit the giving, solicitation or acceptance of certain gifts by officers and employees of the judicial branch. 

Furthermore, since the private jets and yachts used to facilitate travel were likely owned by Crow family business entities, an investigation would provide further insight into whether payment of these trips was accepted for the advancement of Mr. Crow’s business interests. Additionally, the investigation would indicate whether Justice Thomas has used his official position to boost his standard of living.

The purpose of the financial disclosure system is to promote integrity in our federal government through enhanced transparency into potential conflicts of interest. A full investigation into these additional gifts, gifts addressed in previous complaints and any still undisclosed gifts is essential to maintain confidence in the integrity of the Supreme Court.

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