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Report: Donor covered tuition for Clarence Thomas’ relative

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas joins other members of the Supreme Court as they pose for a new group portrait, at the Supreme Court building in Washington, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. Justice Thomas was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to succeed Justice Thurgood Marshall and has served since 1991. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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(The Hill) — Billionaire and GOP megadonor Harlan Crow paid for the private school tuition of Justice Clarence Thomas’s great-nephew, who the justice said he raised “as a son,” according to reporting by ProPublica.

Thomas’s relative, Mark Martin, attended boarding schools Hidden Lake Academy in Georgia as well as Randolph-Macon Academy in Virginia. Tuition at Hidden Lake was more than $6,000 a month, according to the report.

Unrelated Court documents revealed a $6,200 wire payment from Crow’s company to the school in July 2009. ProPublica reported that Crow made additional contributions beyond the single one in 2009.

Crow’s office, in a statement, said he and his wife, Kathy, have supported many students by funding scholarships.

“Tuition and other financial assistance is given directly to academic institutions, not to students or to their families,” Crow’s office said. “These scholarships and other contributions have always been paid solely from personal funds, sometimes held at and paid through the family business. It’s disappointing that those with partisan political interests would try to turn helping at-risk youth with tuition assistance into something nefarious or political.”

The Hill has reached out to Thomas for comment through a court spokesperson.

Mark Paoletta, a friend of Thomas and Crow, confirmed that Crow offered to pay the first year of Thomas’s great-nephew’s tuition at Randolph Macon in 2006, adding that Crow had supported the school since the 1980s. Randolph Macon recommended Thomas’s relative attend the Georgia boarding school for one year, and Crow offered to pay the tuition there, Paoletta said.

Under federal law, Supreme Court justices are required to disclose gifts made to them, their spouses or a dependent child. Paoletta defended the payments as not constituting a reportable gift since the child was Thomas’s great-nephew.

“The Thomases have rarely spoken publicly about the remarkably generous efforts to help a child in need,” he said in a statement. “They have always respected the privacy of this young man and his family. It is disappointing and painful, but unsurprising that some journalists and critics cannot do the same.”


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