Clarence Thomas took 3 undisclosed trips on private jet provided by GOP megadonor, committee finds

Washington- Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took three undisclosed trips aboard a private jet provided by Republican megadonor Harlan Crow between 2017 and 2021, according to documents obtained by the Senate Judiciary Committee and released Thursday.

The records, which Crow provided to the committee, show that Thomas traveled aboard Crow’s private jet in May 2017, on a flight from St. Louis, Missouri, to Kalispell, Montana, with a return flight to Dallas two days later.

The recently revealed second trip aboard the plane took place in March 2019, from Washington, D.C., to Savannah, Georgia, and back. The third, in June 2021, included round-trip flights between Washington and San Jose, California.

The committee said the documents were obtained through its Vote to authorize a subpoena for Crow in November. In addition to Crow, Democrats on the panel voted to subpoena conservative activist Leonard Leo, who refused to comply With their request for information. Crow’s office said in April that he had not received a subpoena from the committee.

A committee statement said Thomas did not include the private jet trip in his most recent financial disclosure, which came out last week. The Supreme Court did not immediately return a request for comment.

Justice Clarence Thomas is seen during the official group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, October 2017. 7, 2022.
Justice Clarence Thomas is seen during the official group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, October 2017. 7, 2022.

Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Nearly $4.2 million in gifts and even that was not enough for Justice Thomas, with at least three additional trips that the committee found he has not disclosed to date,” said the Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin in a statement. “The Senate Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Supreme Court’s ethical crisis produces new information – like what we revealed today – and makes clear that the Supreme Court needs a code of conduct enforceable, because its members continue to choose not to meet the moment.

Crow’s office said in a statement that it reached an agreement with the panel to provide information dating back seven years in response to Democrats’ demands for lists of travel, gifts, lodging or other transactions he provided to any member of the Supreme Court.

“Despite his serious and continuing concerns about the legality and necessity of the investigation, Mr. Crow engaged from the outset in good faith negotiations with the committee to resolve the matter,” the office said by Crow. “As a condition of this agreement, the Committee has agreed to terminate its investigation into Mr. Crow.”

Durbin said the documents also showed a trip aboard Crow’s private jet for a trip to Bali, Indonesia, in July 2019, an eight-day “yacht excursion” for that vacation and a trip on a private jet for a July 2019 trip to Santa Rosa, California.

The two trips in July 2019, to Indonesia and California, were reported by Thomas in an amendment to his financial disclosure form for 2019, which was included in his latest disclosure covering 2023 released last week. Thomas said he received food and accommodation at a private club and hotel. It does not include travel on private plane or yacht. His report said accommodation information was “inadvertently omitted” from his initial filing.

Durbin also said that the dates of the Indonesia trip reported by Thomas differ from those listed in the documents provided by Crow.

The Judicial Commission has been investigating ethics issues at the Supreme Court for about a year. The investigation was sparked by a report from news outlet ProPublica that Thomas’ detailed travels with Crow, including vacations to Bali, had not been included in his financial disclosure reports.

Thomas said last year that he didn’t believe he was required to disclose his travel and pledged to comply with guidelines regarding personal hospitality issued last year by the Judicial Conference, the decision-making body of the federal courts. Its financial disclosure report for 2022 Listed flights that Thomas took aboard Crow’s private plane, as well as lodging at his property in the Adirondacks. Thomas also provided details on a Real estate transaction 2014 with Crow that ProPublica revealed.

Thomas’ relationship with Crow led Senate Democrats to pressure the Supreme Court to adopt a formal code of conduct and the Judiciary Committee. advanced legislation last July, this would have required the court to put in place binding ethics rules. But the measure did not come up for a vote in the Senate, and Durbin attempted Wednesday unanimously adopt the ethics bill was blocked by the Republican senator. Lindsey Graham.

The Supreme Court made unveil your own code of conduct In November, however, he did not provide for enforcement and criticized the ethics rules as inadequate.

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