Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been accused of accepting luxury trips from Republican billionaire Harlan Crow for more than two decades, ProPublica reports.
The non-profit organization found that the justice had taken several undisclosed trips aboard Crow’s yacht and private jet and stayed at the billionaire’s private resort in the Adirondacks. Furthermore, the Georgia native was found to have accepted a trip to Indonesia in 2019 from the megadonor.
“If Thomas had chartered the plane and the 162-foot yacht himself,” the report reads. “The total cost of the trip could have exceeded $500,000. Fortunately for him, that wasn’t necessary: He was on vacation with real estate magnate and Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, who owned the jet and the yacht. ”
According to the Associated Press, Supreme Court justices are legally required to complete an annual financial disclosure report. The document mandates that justices detail the gifts they’ve received—including trips.
Under the judiciary policy guide, justices do not need to document “food, lodging or entertainment received as personal hospitality of any individual” if it is at that individual’s or family’s residence. However, the exception to the rule isn’t established to “cover transportation that substitutes for commercial transportation.”
Justice Clarence Thomas has since responded to the allegations in a statement released on Friday (April 7). Attempting to explain the undisclosed gifts, Thomas, 74, expressed that Crow and his wife are “dearest friends” and that the gifts were “personal hospitality,” NBC News reports.
“Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable,” Thomas said. “I have endeavored to follow that counsel throughout my tenure, and have always sought to comply with the disclosure guidelines.”
Crow also released a statement regarding the bombshell, explaining that 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.” He maintained that the couple “never asked for any of this hospitality.”
The billionaire asserted that he “never asked about a pending or lower court case, and Justice Thomas has never discussed one, and we have never sought to influence Justice Thomas on any legal or political issue.”
Interestingly enough, the political figure has been holidaying at Crow’s resort for over two decades. On one instance in 2017, the justice took a trip to the resort along with executives at “Verizon and PricewaterhouseCoopers, major Republican donors and one of the leaders of the American Enterprise Institute, a pro-business conservative think tank,” according to ProPublica.
Regarding the extensive list of influential figures visiting his island, Crow told the outlet he isn’t aware of anyone trying to pressure Thomas politically.
“[I’m] unaware of any of our friends ever lobbying or seeking to influence Justice Thomas on any case, and I would never invite anyone who I believe had any intention of doing that.”
The reports also garnered reactions from notable figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Judge Mathis, calling out the “corruption.”
“This degree of corruption is shocking — almost cartoonish,” Rep. AOC, D-N.Y., typed on Twitter. “Thomas must be impeached.”
“I BELIEVE THAT SUPREME COURT JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS IS CORRUPT,” Mathis typed on Instagram. “NO WONDER HE HAS RULED AGAINST MOST CASES THAT WOULD ADVANCE EQUALITY FOR MINORITY GROUPS. I BELIEVE HE IS A MISGUIDED BLACK MAN!”