Mark Paoletta, a longtime friend of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and lawyer to his wife, defended Thomas in a lengthy statement on Thursday after another left-wing publication ran a hit piece on the 74-year-old justice.
ProPublica reported on Thursday that GOP billionaire donor Harlan Crow paid thousands of dollars for private schooling for a great nephew of Thomas that he raised as a son for more than a decade. The report suggested that Thomas did something wrong because he did not disclose the payments as gifts.
“The Thomases have rarely spoken publicly about the remarkably generous efforts to help a child in need,” said Paoletta. “They have always respected the privacy of this young man and his family. It is disappointing and painful, but unsurprising that some journalists and critics cannot do the same.”
“The Thomases—quietly and honorably—devoted twelve years of their lives to helping a beloved child in desperate need of love, support, and guidance,” he continued. “In 1997, Justice Thomas and his wife brought their great nephew to live with them. They agreed to take in this young child much as Justice Thomas’s grandparents had done for him and his brother in 1955.”
Paoletta said that Thomas’ grandparents changed the trajectory of his life and that Thomas wanted to do the same for a child in his family who was in need.
“Justice Thomas and his wife made immeasurable personal and financial sacrifices and poured every ounce of their lives and hearts into giving their great nephew a chance to succeed,” Paoletta said.
“In the summer of 2006, the Thomases were struggling to find a school where they could send their great nephew. In discussing these challenges with their dear friends, Harlan and Kathy Crow, Harlan recommended that the Thomases consider one more option: sending their great nephew to Randolph Macon Academy. Harlan had attended Randolph Macon, and he thought the school would be a good fit.”
“Harlan had financially supported Randolph Macon since the 1980s, and funded scholarships for students from disadvantaged backgrounds,” the statement continued. “Harlan offered to pay the first year of Justice Thomas’s great nephew’s tuition in 2006, and that payment went directly to the school. Harlan Crow’s Office confirmed that he did not pay the great nephew’s tuition for any other year at Randolph Macon.”
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