Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s 2022 annual financial disclosure has been released as liberal groups continue to accuse the conservative and other justices of ethics violations related to their finances.
The document, totaling nine pages and obtained by the Washington Examiner, provides a thorough accounting of the finances of Thomas and his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a conservative activist and consulting firm head. It was filed to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and is being made public at a time when the justice has repeatedly come under fire from left-wing advocacy groups, particularly over his relationship with Texas-based billionaire Harlan Crow.
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“Over the course of his 44 years in public service in all three branches of government, Justice Thomas has always strived for full transparency and adherence to the law, including with respect to what personal travel needed to be reported,” attorney Elliot S. Berke, whose firm Thomas engaged to help file the disclosure, said in a statement.
“We recognize that the Judicial Conference is in receipt of ethics complaints filed against Justice Thomas by left wing organizations with largely undisclosed supporters that stand diametrically opposed to his judicial philosophy,” Berke added. “We look forward to answering any additional questions or addressing any remaining issues with it and its staff in the wake of these sensationalized allegations. The financial disclosure process should never be weaponized against any Justice simply because any organization or anyone disagrees with the way a Justice thinks, writes, or votes.”
Many left-leaning activist hubs and Democratic politicians, including the likes of Fix the Court, as well as Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Dick Durbin (IL), have been leading a seemingly coordinated campaign slamming Thomas over what they say has been a persistent failure to disclose gifts, like that from Crow. Conservatives, however, have pushed back on these allegations by highlighting how such disclosure was not required under the ethics rules.
Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito were given an extension by the administrative office on June 7 to file their financial disclosure forms, while the seven other justices were able to submit their forms by the deadline.
But unlike their colleagues, the pair of justices have faced repeated scrutiny on the left, particularly from the outlet ProPublica. On April 6, ProPublica ran a report suggesting Thomas “should have disclosed his trips” taken more than decades ago with Crow, citing the advice of “ethics law experts.” The outlet ran a separate report on June 20 suggesting Alito engaged in ethical impropriety in July 2008 when he went on a fishing trip in Alaska, prompting the justice to take matters into his own hands and issue a swift rebuke through a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “ProPublica Misleads Its Readers.”
The 2022 Thomas filing lists his honorary board member role for the Horatio Alger Association, an educational nonprofit group, and $12,000 income from teaching a course at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School with professor Jennifer Mascott, a former Thomas clerk.
Regarding his involvement with Crow in 2022, Thomas disclosed three separate reimbursements, documents reveal. Crow paid for the return flight and meals for Thomas after he flew to Dallas to speak at the American Enterprise Institute’s Conference at Old Parkland, which was canceled due to an ice storm. It was rescheduled for May 12 to 14, and Crow, who serves on the board for AEI, footed the bill for the justice’s “transportation and meals,” according to the filing.
Thomas said he took private transportation in May 2022 because of the “increased security risk” after the leak of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization opinion just days earlier.
The eldest justice also was a guest between July 7 and 13 at Crow’s Camp Topridge in Keese Mill, New York, for a vacation, the filing shows. The other reimbursement listed pertains to the justice’s March speech in Salt Lake City with the Hatch Center, which paid for his “transportation, meals, and lodging” and hosted Thomas on the 11th of that month for a two-hour event.
Days after ProPublica’s first report on Thomas, the outlet published another story on April 13 revealing Thomas sold real estate based in Savannah, Georgia, to Crow without reporting the sale in 2014. The property comprised a single-story home and two vacant lots in Savannah, Georgia, from an entity registered to Thomas, his mother, and the family of Thomas’s late brother.
“All the purchases on 32nd Street in Savannah made by Mr. Crow were arms-length transactions at fair market value,” Berke said. The purchase from Crow amounted to $133,363 and marked the first known instance of payments between the pair, though Thomas only had a one-third stake in the property, meaning he only earned roughly $44,000, amounting to a capital loss, according to Berke.
“Because his interest in the Savannah properties had not generated even nominal income since 2009, and thus had been removed from the annual reports (as suggested by Committee staff) as ‘assets,’ Justice Thomas inadvertently failed to realize that the ‘sales transaction’ for the property triggered a new reportable transaction in 2014, even though this sale resulted in a capital loss,” Berke added. “He has now reported that transaction in Part VIII of his 2022 report.”
Crow is a prominent Dallas-based real estate developer, Republican donor, and friend to Thomas, though he has never had business before the Supreme Court.
The Judicial Conference, the policymaking body for federal courts that also supervises the director of the Administrative Office, issued guidance for the first time on March 14, declaring that “transportation that substitutes for commercial transportation” would no longer be considered exempt from reporting requirements. Berke said the reported travel on Thomas’s latest disclosure form was included because of those changes but defended the justice’s previous nondisclosure about such travel.
The guidance in effect until March this year did not call for reporting the travel with Crow from years past, Berke said, citing that Thomas was adhering to guidance provided by now-Senior Judge Raymond Randolph, previously chairman of the Judicial Codes of Conduct Committee.
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Thomas released a rare response to the ProPublica reporting in April, noting he was “advised,” presumably by Randolph, that he need not report his travelings with Crow at that time.
In 2011, the Judicial Conference issued a letter stating that Thomas did not improperly fail to disclose information concerning his travel in response to a complaint by 20 members of Congress.