US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas discloses private trips from billionaire
Private jet flights, luxury vacation at Harlon Crow's New York estate among gifts in filing
HOUSTON, United States
US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas disclosed multiple private jet trips and a luxurious vacation stay Thursday at one of the estates of billionaire Harlan Crow.
The disclosure comes amid scrutiny concerning Thomas accepting millions of dollars from Republican mega-donors like Crow for several decades and not listing them in annual financial disclosures, casting a shadow of ethical questions about the nation's highest court.
Thomas has professed his relationship with Crow and said in his filing he "adhered to the then existing judicial regulations ... that exempted disclosing trips that were provided pursuant to the 'personal hospitality' exemption, as set forth in the statute and rules."
The disclosure showed that Crow paid for Thomas's private jet trips in 2022 to attend a speech in the state of Texas in addition to a vacation at Crow's luxurious New York estate.
Regarding the flights that Thomas took in May 2022, the disclosure said the "flights were reported as advised" for security reasons after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn decades of federal abortion protections.
"Because of the increased security risks following the Dobbs opinion leak, the May flights were by private jet for official travel as filer's security detail recommended noncommercial travel whenever possible," according to the disclosure, referring to the case that overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
The newly released financial filing also amended prior reports to include information that Thomas had not included in previous disclosures.
"Filer discloses the following assets that were inadvertently omitted from his reports during the covered period 2017 thru 2021," it said.
Some of the disclosures included a life insurance policy for his wife and conservative political activist Virginia Thomas that had a cash value of less than $100,000 and a bank account valued at less than $70,000.
A 2014 private real estate deal in Savannah, Georgia with Crow was also disclosed in which Thomas claimed "the transaction amounted to a capital loss."
Thomas made the disclosures after receiving an extension for the financial reports that were due in May.
"Over the course of his 44 years in public service in all three branches of government, Justice Thomas has always strived for full transparency and adherence to the law, including with respect to what personal travel needed to be reported," Thomas's attorney Elliot Burke said in a statement obtained by multiple news outlets.
Burke called the attacks on Thomas "ridiculous and dangerous" and said they "set a terrible precedent for political bloodspot through federal ethics filings."
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