New report details Clarence Thomas’ 'shady ties to sprawling network of dark money'

New report details Clarence Thomas’ 'shady ties to sprawling network of dark money'
Sonny Perdue is sworn in as the 31st Secretary of Agriculture by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with his wife Mary and family April 25, 2017, at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.. Photo by Preston Keres

U.S, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a business relationship with Leonard Leo, a co-chairman of the board of the right-wing Federalist Society, which was responsible for “vetting” and effectively installing then-President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees.

“Right-wing judicial activist Leonard Leo has been exerting influence over the Supreme Court for three decades,” reports The Daily Beast‘s Roger Sollenberger. “So why is Clarence Thomas hiring Leo’s firm to do public relations?”

Justice Thomas is promoting a new release of his 2007 memoir and has hired Leonard Leo’s PR firm, CRC Advisors, to promote the book. The Daily Beast adds Leo “was also tasked with promoting a Thomas documentary, and the firm was the registered agent for four Thomas-centric web domains.”

Sollenberger reports that the “revelations of Leo and Thomas’ business relationship offers new evidence of ties between a sitting justice and a man widely considered the most powerful conservative judicial activist in the country. And while it might not be an instantly damning smoking gun, experts say the connection—where Thomas stands to gain financially—raises further questions about the arch-conservative justice’s deep and shady ties to a sprawling network of dark money organizations and right-wing activist groups, many of which have business before him.”

Leonard Leo has also “raised hundreds of millions of dollars over the three decades on behalf of right-wing dark money groups to influence the federal judiciary and Supreme Court. He advised and persuaded Republican presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump in their appointments of Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Chief Justice John Roberts—and prepped Justice Thomas for his nomination hearings.”

The Federalist Society, which Leo ran for years, was founded in 1982. Antonin Scalia, Robert Bork, and Ted Olson were there at the beginning. It has reshaped America’s courts and laws, especially under Donald Trump.

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in a 2019 speech on the floor of the Senate noted that “nearly 90% of Trump’s appellate judges, and both his Supreme Court justices, are members of the so-called Federalist Society. On the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Alito, Thomas—all are members. Now that’s a little weird. What’s really weird is that through this Federalist Society vehicle, big special interests are picking federal judges.”

Read the full Daily Beast article here, read Sen. Whitehouse’s full speech here, and watch him again go after the Federalist Society in a 2020 Senate hearing here.

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