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Clarence Thomas Defends Undisclosed “Family Trips” With GOP Megadonor. Here Are the Facts.

Follow up to ProPublica April 5, 2023 report – Clarence Thomas and the Billlionare – “In response to [the] ProPublica report, Thomas explained why he did not disclose lavish travel provided by billionaire Harlan Crow. But legal experts maintain the justice was required to make these disclosures….“Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable,” Thomas said in the statement. “I have endeavored to follow that counsel throughout my tenure, and have always sought to comply with the disclosure guidelines.” But seven legal ethics experts consulted by ProPublica, including former ethics lawyers for Congress and the White House, said the law clearly requires that gifts of transportation, including private jet flights, be disclosed. If Thomas is arguing otherwise, the experts said, he is incorrect…A law passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal, the Ethics in Government Act, requires Supreme Court justices and many other federal officials to report most gifts to the public. Justices are generally required to report all gifts worth more than $415, defined as “anything of value” that they don’t repay the full cost of. Gifts are disclosed in an annual financial report that is made public…

ProPublica asked the seven legal ethics experts about the exception and Thomas’ statement. All said that the law’s language clearly requires that gifts of transportation, such as private jet travel or cruises on a yacht, be disclosed and said Thomas appears to have violated the law by failing to report them…Questions about Thomas’ compliance with the disclosure law have come up in the past. In 2011, he announced that he was amending years’ worth of his disclosure forms because he had failed to disclose the sources of his wife, Ginni’s, income.At the time, he cited a “misunderstanding of the filing instructions.”

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