Supreme Court’s Clarence Thomas Took Additional Trips Paid For By Benefactor, Senator Says

Supreme Court's Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took at least three additional trips funded by billionaire benefactor Harlan Crow, which he failed to disclose, said Senator Dick Durbin, the Democratic chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Thursday. Crow, a Texas businessman and Republican donor, revealed details about Thomas’s travel between 2017 and 2021. This disclosure came after the Judiciary Committee voted last November to authorize subpoenas to Crow and Leonard Leo, another influential conservative figure.

Thomas had previously faced criticism for failing to disclose gifts from Crow. On June 7, Thomas revised his 2019 financial disclosure form to acknowledge that Crow paid for his “food and lodging” at a Bali hotel and at a California club. However, Thomas did not disclose that Crow had also paid for his travel by private jet related to the Bali and California trips, as well as an eight-day excursion on a yacht in Indonesia. Durbin’s office revealed these omissions on Thursday in a redacted document that included travel itineraries showing Crow provided transportation for the justice.

The document details private jet travel in May 2017 between St. Louis, Montana, and Dallas; in March 2019 between Washington and Savannah, Georgia; and in June 2021 between Washington and San Jose, California. Crow agreed to provide information requested by the committee dating back seven years. Crow’s spokesperson, Michael Zona, stated that the committee agreed to end its probe into Crow as part of this agreement.

“Despite serious and continued concerns about the legality and necessity of the inquiry, Mr. Crow engaged in good faith negotiations with the committee from the beginning to resolve the matter,” Zona said. A Supreme Court spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Supreme Court’s ethical crisis is producing new information, like what we’ve revealed today, and it makes it crystal clear that the highest court needs an enforceable code of conduct because its members continue to choose not to meet the moment,” Durbin stated.

Under pressure from criticism over ethics, the Supreme Court adopted its first code of conduct last November. However, critics and some congressional Democrats argue that the code does not go far enough to promote transparency, as it still leaves decisions to recuse from cases to the justices themselves and provides no mechanism of enforcement.