Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted luxury vacations and gifts without disclosing them from billionaire Harlan Crow for more than 20 years. New investigative journalism by ProPublica revealed the details of Crow, a real estate magnet and GOP mega-donor, and Justice Thomas’s relationship through flight records, internal documents to Crow’s employees and interviews conducted including yacht staff and an Indonesian scuba diving instructor.
A law passed after Watergate requires justices, judges, members of Congress, and federal officials to disclose most gifts, according to ethics law experts, therefore, legal experts believe Justice Thomas is in violation because of his failure to disclose such gifts.
“It’s incomprehensible to me that someone would do this. It was a question of not wanting to use the office for anything other than what it was intended,” Virginia Carter, a former government ethics lawyer, said.
ProPublica found no trace of these travels in Justice Thomas’ financial records.
In a statement from Crow, he acknowledged his relationship with Justice Thomas over the years, but said it was “no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends.”
“We have never sought to influence Justice Thomas on any legal or political issue,” Crow said.
Crow said that Justice Thomas never asked for any of the gifts received, but legally speaking, experts believe he broke a “longstanding code of conduct that requires judges to avoid the ‘appearance of impropriety.'”