Megadonor Turns Down Senate Request on Thomas Gifts

His lawyer argues that Judiciary Committee doesn't have authority for investigation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2023 6:23 PM CDT
Updated May 25, 2023 5:22 AM CDT
Senate Committee Wants Full Accounting of Crow's Gifts
Harlan Crow attends a book release reception by The George W. Bush Institute for "The 4 Percent Solution: Unleashing the Economic Growth America Needs," on July 17, 2012, in Dallas.   (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
UPDATE May 25, 2023 5:22 AM CDT

Republican donor Harlan Crow has rejected the Senate Judiciary Committee's demand for a full list of gifts he gave Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas over the years. In a letter seen by CBS, Michael Bopp, one of the billionaire's lawyers, argued that the committee doesn't have the authority—or a "valid legislative purpose"—to investigate Crow's friendship with Thomas. He accused the committee of targeting Thomas for "special and unwarranted opprobrium." Sen. Dick Durbin, the committee's chairman, fired back in a statement. Crow "believes the secrecy of his lavish gifts to Justice Thomas is more important than the reputation of the highest court of law in this land," the Democrat said. "He is wrong."

May 9, 2023 6:23 PM CDT

The Senate Judiciary Committee has asked Republican donor Harlan Crow to come up with a full accounting of gifts that he provided over his decades of friendship with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The move follows reports that the conservative justice failed to disclose luxury travel provided by Crow, along with real estate deals and other connections. "Recent investigative reporting has identified multiple instances in which you or entities you own or control have made payments, purchased real estate, or provided gifts, travel, or other items of value to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and members of his family," Democrats on the committee said in a letter to Crow, per the Hill.

The committee, chaired by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, asked Crow and the holding companies involved to provide a full accounting of gifts over $415 provided to Supreme Court justices or their relatives by May 22. Crow's office said it looks forward to "responding to Chairman Durbin’s letter in due course." Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden said Tuesday that he had also asked Crow for information but it was not provided by the May 8 deadline he set, NPR reports.

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"I was disappointed but unsurprised by billionaire Republican activist Harlan Crow's refusal to respond to my questions," Wyden said in a statement. "The bottom line is that nobody can expect to get away with waving off Finance Committee oversight, no matter how wealthy or well-connected they may be." Republicans including Sen. Mike Crapo, the ranking Republican on Wyden's committee, said they would fight any attempt to subpoena Crow. (Crow says he and Thomas are victims of a "political hit job.")

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