Thomas Acknowledges Trips on Donor's Private Jet

Supreme Court justice reports 3 trips in new financial disclosure
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 31, 2023 1:19 PM CDT
Thomas Acknowledges Trips on Donor's Private Jet
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is acknowledging that he took three trips last year aboard a private plane owned by Republican megadonor Harlan Crow. It's the first time in years that Thomas has reported receiving hospitality from Crow, per the AP. In a disclosure report made public Thursday, the 75-year-old justice said he was complying with new guidelines from the federal judiciary for reporting travel. The filing comes amid a heightened focus on ethics at the high court that stems from a series of reports revealing that Thomas has for years received undisclosed expensive gifts, including international travel, from Crow, a wealthy businessman and benefactor of conservative causes.

Crow also purchased the house in Georgia where Thomas' mother continues to live and paid for two years of private school tuition for a child raised by Thomas and his wife, Ginni. One trip Thomas reported was to Crow's lodge in the Adironack Mountains in upstate New York, where the investigative news site ProPublica has reported that Thomas visits every year. The other two trips were to Dallas, where he spoke at conferences sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. Thomas noted that court officials recommended that he avoid commercial travel for one of the trips, in mid-May, because of concerns about the justices' security following the leak of the court's draft abortion opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade.

The justice also belatedly acknowledged that Crow had purchased the home in Savannah, Georgia, where Thomas' mother still lives. Thomas and other family members owned the house, along with two neighboring properties. The sale was completed in 2014, but Thomas said he erroneously thought he didn't have to report it because "this sale resulted in a capital loss." He is considering whether to amend prior reports to include more private plane travel, he noted. The annual financial reports for Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito were released Thursday, nearly three months after those of the other seven justices. (Alito's is here, via the Hill.) Thomas and Alito were granted 90-day extensions.

(More Clarence Thomas stories.)

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