Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas issued a rare statement Friday to defend travel he took with his friends over many years, following reports that he failed to report travel-related gifts from a GOP mega-donor.
A ProPublica investigation published this week found that Thomas’ close friendship with real estate developer Harlan Crow allowed him to accompany the Texas billionaire on luxury vacations on his private jet and yacht, as well as free stays on Crow’s vast vacation property, among other perks.
But Thomas defended the trips and explained that he has always followed Supreme Court guidance.
“Harlan and Kathy Crow are among our dearest friends, and we have been friends for over twenty-five years,” the justice, who has served on the bench for 32 years, said in a Friday statement.
“As friends do, we have joined them on a number of family trips during the more than quarter century we have known them. 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,” he said. “These guidelines are now being changed, as the committee of the Judicial Conference responsible for financial disclosure for the entire federal judiciary just this past month announced new guidance. And, it is, of course, my intent to follow this guidance in the future.”
In a statement to ProPublica, Crow denied ever trying to influence Thomas or put him in positions where other influential people could do the same.
“The hospitality we have extended to the Thomas’s (sic) over the years is no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends,” part of the statement reads.
“We have 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. More generally, I am 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.”
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