Clarence Thomas’ 'concerning' real estate deal with a GOP billionaire must be 'fully scrutinized': columnist
ProPublica has become a major thorn in the side of far-right U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. First, ProPublica reported, on April 6, that the George H.W. Bush appointee had "been treated to luxury vacations by billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow" for "over 20 years" and failed to report it. Then, on Thursday, April 13, ProPublica reported that Crow had purchased property from Thomas in 2014 — a real estate transaction that, like the vacations, Thomas failed to report.
In an opinion column published on April 13, the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus lays out some reasons why ProPublica's latest revelations on Thomas are even more troubling than its bombshell April 6 report.
"The matter of Clarence Thomas' relationship with billionaire Harlan Crow has now entered new territory, treacherous for the justice and the Court on which he serves," Marcus argues. "Until Thursday's ProPublica's report disclosing Crow’s purchase of property owned by Thomas and his family in 2014, the story was about Thomas' judgment, or lack thereof, in accepting large amounts of luxury travel from the Republican megadonor, and whether he had failed once again to comply with federal financial disclosure rules.”
READ MORE: Clarence Thomas defends luxury vacations paid for by billionaire Republican donor
Marcus continues, "The latest revelation escalates the situation to a new and concerning level. This time, Thomas directly received money from Crow — perhaps in excess of the market value of the Chatham County, Ga., properties that Crow purchased from Thomas and his kin. This is no longer about receiving 'personal hospitality.' It's about a financial transaction between Thomas and a GOP donor who has also subsidized his vacations."
After ProPublica published its April 6 report, progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) once again called for Thomas to be impeached. Marcus doesn't go that far in her opinion column, but she does stress that Thomas' relationship with Crow needs to be "fully scrutinized."
"There is no doubt that the sale of personal real estate to Crow should have been reported on the justice's financial disclosure form for 2014, and there is no excuse for failing to do so," Marcus writes. "The most logical explanation is that Thomas, whose relationship with Crow had already been the subject of unflattering news reports, wanted to keep it from public view. Thomas' relationship with Crow and the accuracy of his financial disclosure reports must now be fully scrutinized by the Judicial Conference of the United States, which oversees the federal judiciary and may refer the matter to the Justice Department for additional action."
Marcus adds, "As Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. surely understands, this is a problem not just for Thomas, but also, for the Court and its public legitimacy."
READ MORE: Why Clarence and Ginni Thomas have done more than anyone to 'damage the High Court’s reputation': journalist
Read Ruth Marcus’ full Washington Post opinion column at this link (subscription required).
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