House Democrats call for investigation into Clarence Thomas over corruption claims

‘Refusing to hold him accountable would set a dangerous precedent,’ they wrote

Kelly Rissman
Saturday 12 August 2023 14:12 BST
Supreme Court Judtice Clarence Thomas criticised for conflict of interest

A host of House Democrats, led by Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are urging the Justice Department to launch a probe into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “for consistently failing to report significant gifts he received from Harlan Crow and other billionaires for nearly two decades in defiance of his duty under federal law.”

In the 11 August letter addressed to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, the Democrats cited the bombshell reports by ProPublica, alleging that Justice Thomas did not disclose luxurious trips and gifts from his billionaire friend Harlan Crow.

They wrote that Mr Thomas did not disclose the gifts, “despite certifying repeatedly that his financial disclosure forms are ‘accurate, true, and complete’ in certifications ‘subject to civil and criminal sanctions.’”

Supreme Court justices are required to file annual reports disclosing “financial income, gifts and reimbursements, property interests, liabilities, and transactions,” the letter states. While some expenses may be exempt from this requirement, the letter continues, “that exemption does not extend to the officer’s receipt of complimentary transportation, such as the extensive private jet, helicopter, and yacht travel received by Justice Thomas.”

It then lays out the consequences of violating the Ethics in Government Act, which states that the attorney general can bring a civil action “against any individual who knowingly and willfully falsifies or who knowingly and willfully fails to file or report any information that such individual is required to report pursuant.”

The letter lays out the gifts provided to the Supreme Court Justice from Mr Crow and other wealthy businessmen. “ All told, Thomas has received at least 38 designation vacations, 26 private jet flights, eight helicopter flights, VIP passes to sporting events, stays at luxury resorts, and an invitation to an exclusive golf club” and the estimated value of his gifts since his Supreme Court appointment amounts to millions of dollars, according to the letter.

The Supreme Court justice’s “consistent failure to disclose gifts and benefits from industry magnates and wealthy, politically active executives highlights a blatant disregard for judicial ethics as well as apparent legal violations,” the Democrats wrote.

“Refusing to hold him accountable would set a dangerous precedent,” they wrote.

The letter is signed by Reps Ocasio-Cortez, Jerry Nadler, Jamie Raskin, Hank Johnson, and Ted Lieu.

Mr Thomas has been under scrutiny over the past few months following the blockbuster ProPublica reports. On Thursday, New Jersey Rep Bill Pascrell called for his resignation: “He’s corrupt as hell and should resign today,” the lawmaker wrote.

Similarly, Rep Gerry Connolly wrote, “Thomas has repeatedly brought dishonor and ethical malpractice to our highest Court,” adding, “I reiterate my call that he must resign. This is exactly why we need SCOTUS ethics reform.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in