Report: Justice Thomas lavished with luxury vacations by GOP donor

  • A ProPublica report outlines decades of undisclosed luxury vacations
  • GOP mega-donor Harlan Crow denies the trips were attempts to curry favor
  • Failure to disclose the vacations are likely in violation of ethics laws

FILE – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks Sept. 16, 2021, at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Thomas has backed out of teaching a seminar at George Washington University’s law school in the nation’s capital, following student protests and the university’s statement of support for the conservative justice’s role on campus. (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP, File)

(NewsNation) — An investigative report from the nonprofit news organization ProPublica details the lavish perks Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has received from a billionaire Republican donor for decades.

The report reveals Texas real estate mogul Harlan Crow has repeatedly treated the Supreme Court justice to luxurious vacations and private jet flights which put the justice “in contact with corporate execs and political activists,” according to the report.

One of the vacations detailed in the report was Thomas’ retreat to Crow’s private lakeside resort in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. The sprawling 105-acre property includes “more than 25 fireplaces, three boathouses, clay tennis court and batting cage,” according to the report.

A stay at the Camp Topridge property is invitation-only; it’s also free. ProPublica reports a stay at a nearby resort would cost about $2,250 a night.

A painting of a gathering between Crow and Thomas enjoying cigars is also featured in the report. Also in the artist’s rendering of the event: Conservative legal activist and former Federalist Society vice president Leonard Leo. Mark Paoletta, a former chief counsel and assistant to former Vice President Mike Pence, sits beside Leo.

Crow told ProPublica it was a “gathering of friends,” and that he is “unaware” of any of them attempting to curry favor with Thomas.

The report alleges that on a 2019 trip to Indonesia, Thomas flew on Crow’s jet to Crow’s yacht, the Michaela Rose — a trip that would have cost Thomas approximately $500,000 had he paid for it himself. ProPublica reports the justice’s annual salary to be $285,000.

ProPublica reports that none of the trips appeared in Thomas’ financial disclosure, something that likely violates ethics laws.

Thomas did not respond to ProPublica’s detailed list of questions.

Crow, in a statement to NewsNation partner The Hill, did not deny the allegations that Thomas had accepted such trips from him over the years, but he said the Supreme Court justice never asked for the gifts.

“The hospitality we have extended to the Thomas’s over the years is no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends,” Crow said in a statement. “Justice Thomas and Ginni never asked for any of this hospitality,” referring to the justice’s wife, Ginni Thomas.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was one of the first to react to the report and called for Thomas’ impeachment.

“This is beyond party or partisanship,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter. “This degree of corruption is shocking — almost cartoonish. Thomas must be impeached.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre did not comment Thursday on ProPublica’s piece when asked during the briefing.


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