The New York Times just published an extensive piece on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failing to disclose trips, private jet flights and real estate transactions with his billionaire pal Harlan Crow. Thomas amended “inadvertently omitted” information and the Supreme Court faces increased scrutiny.
In light of this, I ask again, what about the lush trips that Andre Bouchard and Leo Strine took to New Orleans via taxpayer dollars? Why isn’t our Chancery Court facing increased scrutiny? Why should Delawareans allow taxpayer dollars pay for the Chancery trips to New Orleans?
See the story below and please send your feedback on this folks, it is always welcome and appreciated.
JUDSON Bennett–Coastal Network
Justice Thomas Reports Private Trips With Harlan Crow
By Abbie VanSickle
Reporting from Washington
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. had asked for extensions on their annual forms that show travel, gifts and other financial information.
Justice Clarence Thomas, in his annual financial disclosure form released Thursday, responded in detail to reports that he had failed to disclose luxury trips, flights on a private jet and a real estate transaction with a Texas billionaire.
In an unusual move, the justice included a statement defending his travel with the billionaire, Harlan Crow, who has donated to conservative causes, and amended earlier forms that had “inadvertently omitted” information. Although Justice Thomas reported three trips taken over the past year on Mr. Crow’s private jet, the first time in nearly two decades that he has disclosed such gifts and travel, the form did not appear to be comprehensive.
The acknowledgment comes as the Supreme Court faces increased scrutiny about the justices’ financial dealings after a series of reports have underlined what few disclosure requirements are in place and how compliance is often left to the justices themselves. Lawmakers have renewed their calls for a stricter ethics code after revelations that Justices Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. had accompanied billionaires on lavish vacations but did not report the trips. Although the justices, like other federal judges, are required to file annual reports that document their investments, gifts and travel, they are not subject to binding ethics rules.
The justices file the financial forms each spring, and most were released in early June. But Justices Thomas and Alito requested 90-day extensions, and both their forms were released Thursday.
In his disclosure, Justice Thomas addressed his decision to fly on Mr. Crow’s private jet on one occasion, suggesting that he had been advised to avoid commercial travel after the leak of the draft opinion eliminating a constitutional right to an abortion.
“Because of the increased security risk following the Dobbs opinion leak, the May flights were by private plane for official travel as filer’s security detail recommended noncommercial travel whenever possible,” Justice Thomas wrote.
A court spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the justices have been encouraged to fly on private jets after the leak of the draft decision. Justice Thomas first reported private jet travel in the 1990s, and even as those disclosures dropped off by the mid-2000s, he has continued such travel over decades.
The nature of Justice Thomas’s decades-long relationship with Mr. Crow in particular has elicited questions after ProPublica described the extent of his generosity and the justice’s failure to disclose it. Mr. Crow treated the justice to a series of lavish trips, including flights on his private jet, island-hopping on his yacht and vacations at his estate in the Adirondacks. Mr. Crow also bought the justice’s mother’s home in Savannah, Ga., and covered a portion of private school tuition for the justice’s great-nephew, whom he was raising.
Justice Alito, for his part, acknowledged in June that he had taken a flight on a private plane provided by Paul Singer, a hedge fund billionaire, during a vacation in 2008 to a luxury fishing lodge in Alaska. In the years that followed, Mr. Singer repeatedly had business before the court.
Both justices have insisted that those gifts and travels did not need to be reported at the time.
Justice Alito, defending his actions in The Wall Street Journal, wrote that he was not required to report the trip because “justices commonly interpreted this discussion of ‘hospitality’ to mean that accommodations and transportation for social events were not reportable gifts.” Moreover, he added, the private flight was “transportation for a purely social event.”
In March, the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policymaking body for the federal courts, announced a change in the rules for reporting gifts and travel, including requiring disclosure of flights by private jet.
Under the previous rules, Justice Thomas wrote in his report, he had been advised that he did not need to disclose “gifts received as the personal hospitality of any individual.”
Justice Thomas added that he had “adhered to the then existing judicial regulations as his colleagues had done, both in practice and in consultation with the Judicial Conference.”