Supreme Court’s Thomas took additional trips paid for by benefactor, Democrat says

By Thomson Reuters Jun 13, 2024 | 3:07 PM

By John Kruzel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took at least three additional trips funded by billionaire benefactor Harlan Crow that the conservative justice failed to disclose, the Democratic chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee said on Thursday.

Crow, a Texas businessman and Republican donor, disclosed details about the justice’s travel between 2017 and 2021 in response to a Judiciary Committee vote last November to authorize subpoenas to Crow and another influential conservative, according to Senator Dick Durbin.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Supreme Court’s ethical crisis is producing new information – like what we’ve revealed (Thursday) – and 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 said.

A Supreme Court spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did a lawyer for Crow.

Thomas has previously come under criticism for failing to disclose gifts from Crow. Most recently, Thomas revised his 2019 financial disclosure form on June 7 to acknowledge that Crow paid for his “food and lodging” at a Bali hotel and at a California club.

But the recent filing by Thomas failed to disclose that Crow had paid for his travel by private jet related to the Bali and California trips, and an eight-day excursion on a yacht in Indonesia, omissions that were revealed on Thursday in a redacted document that Durbin’s office said contained travel itineraries where Crow had provided the justice with transportation.

The document shows private jet travel in May 2017 between St. Louis, Montana and Dallas; private jet travel in March 2019 between Washington and Savannah, Georgia; and private jet travel in June 2021 between Washington and San Jose, California.

Under pressure from criticism over ethics, the justices last November adopted their first code of conduct.

Critics and some congressional Democrats have said the code does not go far enough to promote transparency, continuing to leave decisions to recuse from cases to the justices themselves and providing no mechanism of enforcement.

(Reporting by John Kruzel; Editing by Will Dunham)