GOP megadonor leaps to defend Clarence Thomas over real estate disclosures

Harlan Crow says reporting about his and Mr Thomas’s friendship ‘lacks integrity’

Eric Garcia
Tuesday 18 April 2023 15:23 BST
Justice Clarence Thomas to account for 2014 real estate deal

Republican megadoor Harlan Crow defended his friendship with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in an interview with The Dallas Morning News and denied any impropriety regarding their relationship.

Mr Crow’s friendship with the most-senior jurist on the Supreme Court has come under intense scrutiny ever since investigative news outlet ProPublica reported that Mr Thomas had vactioned in luxury on Mr Crow’s dime without disclosing it. ProPublica later reported that Mr Thomas sold a home to Mr Crow but did not disclose it, despite a 1978 law that required such transactions be disclosed.

But Mr Crow, a real estate magnate based in the Dallas area, said he and Mr Thomas did nothing wrong and said the reporting was “factually incorrect and being written with a strong political agenda.”

Mr Crow said he did not think the media cared so much about him but were using him to get to Mr Thomas.

“But I think that the media, and this ProPublica group in particular, funded by leftists, has an agenda to destabilize the [Supreme] Court,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “What they’ve done is not truthful. It lacks integrity. They’ve done a pretty good job in the last week or two of unfairly slamming me and more importantly than that, unfairly slamming Justice Thomas.”

Editor Stephen Engelberg defended his outlet’s funding and reporting, noting how ProPublica has 36,000 donors and is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news outlet.

“It’s worth noting that he and Justice Thomas were given detailed, written questions in advance of our stories,” he said. “Thomas declined to respond. Crow’s answers were included in full. He questioned none of the facts we reported.”

Mr Crow said the two became friends 27 years ago when he spoke with executives who told him that Mr Thomas was appearing in Dallas, which led Mr Crow to offer to fly Mr Thomas on his jet.

“I had never met him,” he said. “During that flight, we found out we were kind of simpatico. We’re the same age. We grew up in the same era. We come from absolutely polar opposite life stories, but we had a lot in common.”

Mr Crow said that interaction led to the two becoming close friends.

“A lot of people that have opinions about this seem to think that there’s something wrong with this friendship,” he said. “You know, it’s possible that people are just really friends. It blows my mind that people assume that because Clarence Thomas has friends, that those friends have an angle.”

Mr Crow noted that he considered himself “pro-choice” whereas Mr Thomas is one of the most ardent opponents of abortion on the court.

“Do you think I would try to influence him about my point of view on that matter? No, of course not,” he said. “That’s insane,” he said. “We have different points of view on that and probably other issues.”

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