Billionaire SCOTUS benefactor Harlan Crow has just hours to comply with Senate Judiciary probe
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating the U.S. Supreme Court’s ethics crisis earlier this month requested an extensive list of documents from billionaire real estate magnate, Republican mega donor, and activistHarlan Crow. He has just hours left to meet the deadline.
According to the letter – not a subpoena – signed by the 11 Democratic Senators including Chairman Dick Durbin, the committee appears to be working off reporting from ProPublica, which published several articles recently exposing, among other concerns, decades-worth of annual or nearly annual luxury all-expenses paid vacations gifted to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and at times his wife Ginni. Legal experts say Justice Thomas failed to comply with federal law by not disclosing certain portions of those gifts, like travel aboard private planes and yachts – a required category. There’s also Crow’s purchase of Thomas’ mother’s house, where she lives now rent-free, and payments (including a half-million dollar startup seed fund) to or for Ginni Thomas. Then there are the tuition payments for the Thomas’ legal ward, their grandnephew.
“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,” the May 8 letter to Crow from the Judiciary Committee begins. “Many of these gifts, transactions, and items of value had not been previously disclosed by Justice Thomas, in apparent contravention of the Supreme Court’s April 25, 2023 ‘Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices’ which claimed that Justices since 1991 ‘have followed’ the financial disclosure requirements provided in the Judicial Conference Regulations, and other applicable obligations. You have issued several public statements acknowledging these items of value that you have given to Justice Thomas and his family members.”
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Indeed, in an interview with The Atlantic published Monday, Crow defiantly insisted he saw nothing wrong with lavishing a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice with gifts, a justice who can and, some say, has issued rulings favorable to his interests.
According to a short biography at the George W. Bush Presidential Center where he sits on the board of directors, Crow’s “company owns and manages real estate investments throughout the United States and overseas. Mr. Crow serves on the boards of the American Enterprise Institute, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Supreme Court Historical Society, and is a member of the American Antiquarian Society and The Philosophical Society of Texas.”
The nonpartisan 501(c)3 watchdog group Accountable.USalleges: “Harlan Crow Is A Longtime Member Of AEI’s Board Of Trustees, And Has Served While The Group Promoted Numerous Supreme Court Amicus Briefs During Thomas’ Tenure.”
It also alleges, “As Recently As 2022, AEI Declared It Had Initiated A ‘Renewed Emphasis On… The Supreme Court’ And The Organization Has Highlighted Their ‘Impact’ On Court Decisions Multiple Times.”
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The Senate Judiciary letter asks Crow for items from five different categories:
“An itemized list of all gifts, payments, and items of value exceeding $415 given by you, or by entities you own or control or for which you have served as a partner, director, or officer, to any Justice of the Supreme Court or a member of the Justice’s family, including the name of the Justice, the approximate dollar amount of each item, and the date it was extended.”
“An itemized list of all real estate transactions in which you, or any entity you own or control or for which you have served as a partner, director, or officer, conducted with a Justice of the Supreme Court or a member of the Justice’s family, including the name of the Justice, the date of the transaction, the valuations of the properties, the dollar amount conveyed in the transaction, any occupancy agreements reached regarding the real estate, and the dollar value of any improvements made or taxes paid on the properties during the course of any occupancy agreement.”
“An itemized list of all transportation or lodging provided by you, or any entity you own or control or for which you have served as a partner, director, or officer, to a Justice of the Supreme Court or a member of the Justice’s family, including the name of the Justice, the date the transportation was provided, the mode of transportation provided, the itinerary traveled, any lodging provided, and the approximate dollar value of the transportation or lodging.”
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“An itemized list of the occasions on which any property or facility owned by any entity you own or control or for which you have served as a partner, director, or officer, provided lodging to a Justice of the Supreme Court or a member of the Justice’s family, including the name of the relevant Justice, the location of the lodging, the date the lodging was provided, and the approximate dollar value of the lodging.”
“An itemized list of all occasions when entrance to any private, members-only club was provided by you, or entities you own or control or for which you have served as a partner, director, or officer, to any Justice of the Supreme Court or a member of the Justice’s family, including the name of the Justice, the dates of those visits, and the full names of any other guests who were also provided entrance by you, or entities you own or control or for which you have served as a partner, director, or officer.”
That letter gives a deadline of today.
Last month Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden also requested documents from Crow. He refused to comply. Last week in an extensive letter Wyden replied, renewing his committee’s request.
It does not appear Crow has complied with either committee’s requests as of this writing.
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