Clarence Thomas Admits Taking Trips On Conservative Mega-Donor Harlan Crow’s Private Plane

The justice’s ethics are in question after he failed for years to report expensive gifts.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas revealed Thursday (Aug. 31) in his annual financial disclosure that he took three trips on the private jet of conservative mega-donor Harlan Crow in 2022 and stayed at the real estate billionaire’s property in the Adirondacks for several days, the Associated Press reports.

Thomas has been under scrutiny since investigative news outlet ProPublica reported in April that Thomas failed to disclose expensive gifts from Crow while sitting on the high court’s bench. Other unreported gifts from Crow included the billionaire paying private school tuition for Thomas’ grandnephew Mark Martin, as well as purchasing property from the justice’s family.  He also neglected to disclose a luxury yacht trip in Indonesia three years ago.

This is the first time in years that Thomas reported receiving gifts from Crow. In the new disclosure, Thomas noted that he was complying with new guidelines from the federal judiciary for reporting travel.

The 75-year-old justice dismissed the criticism he’s faced about possible corruption and impropriety.

“The attacks on Justice Thomas are nothing less than ridiculous and dangerous, and they set a terrible precedent for political bloodsport through federal ethics filings. Justice Thomas’s amended report answers — and utterly refutes— the charges trumped up in this partisan feeding frenzy,” Thomas’ lawyer Elliot Berke said, according to the AP.

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The situation underscores what few disclosure requirements were in place for the justices who had technical wiggle room in deciding how to comply with the rules. Conservative Justice Samuel Alito also failed to declare a luxury fishing trip to Alaska in 2008 that was hosted by a right-wing businessman and included flying on a private plane owned by billionaire Paul Singer, ProPublica reported. Alito did not recuse himself when Singer’s case came before the high court, voting in favor of Singer.

All of the Supreme Court justices have rejected proposals for independent oversight, mandatory compliance with ethical rules and transparency in cases of recusal. Democrats have sought legislation that would mandate a binding ethics code for the Supreme Court.

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