It never ends. The Washington Post is now reporting yet another oddity on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' legally mandated financial disclosures. Since 2006 Thomas has reported somewhere between $270,000 and $750,000 from a family real estate company called Ginger, Ltd., Partnership.
That's a good chunk of change, and the catch? Thomas and his wife shuttered Ginger, Ltd., in 2006. It doesn't exist. Thomas has earned up to $750,000 over the last 17 years from a ghost company.
The Post is able to explain what's likely happened here. In 1982, Ginni Thomas' now-deceased parents formed Ginger, Ltd., as a Nebraska real estate company, collecting rent from two residential developments. That company ceased to exist in 2006; a new company named Ginger Holdings, LLC was formed with the same business address, with Ginni Thomas' sister Joanne Elliot listed as the manager. The assets of the former company were transferred to the new one.
Ginni Thomas, notably, "is not named in state incorporation records" for the new company, reports the Post.
That's where the Post's answers end and the questions begin. Contacted by the Post, Joanne Elliot suggested the reporters call Ginni Thomas for information about the company "before hanging up," which is an odd response from the alleged head of the company. So what's going on?
The most obvious presumption would be that the company was restructured into an LLC for mercurial legal reasons, closing shop and reopening with Joanne Elliot as the manager while distancing sister Ginni Thomas.
Ginni continued to make regular profits from the company. Justice Thomas, however, never bothered to update the new company status—and hasn't updated it in the nearly 20 years since the original company shuttered.
If that sounds familiar, it's because it is. The Post notes that this error is "among a series of errors and omissions that Thomas has made on required annual financial disclosure forms over the past several decades," ones that "raised questions about how seriously Thomas views his responsibility to accurately report details about his finances to the public."
That's not a great use of the raising questions trope, from the Post. There aren't "questions" to be had how Thomas views his legal responsibilities in public reporting his financial dealings while on the bench.
Thomas, a sitting justice of the Supreme Court, did not disclose the sale of his mother's Georgia home to a hard-right Republican billionaire who has been plying that justice and his wife with lavish vacation getaways for years. He did not disclose that billionaire Harlan Crow literally purchased from Thomas the house his mother resides in, or that Crow spent a five-figure sum on renovating the property, or that Crow appears to have let Thomas' mother remain in the house despite the sale, or that Crow reportedly purchased the property with the intent of building a museum honoring Thomas.
There's no plausible way that Clarence Thomas can claim that he believed a real estate transaction in which notorious Republican political activist Crow purchased property from him for the purposes of building a museum about him didn't require legal disclosure. The whole point of judicial disclosures is to publicly ensure wealthy Americans are not tipping courtroom scales by doing expensive favors for the justices deciding each issue; "purchased my home to build a museum celebrating how great I am" is about as overt a favor as it's possible to imagine.
It's not a question of whether Thomas is taking his legal disclosure responsibilities seriously. He self-evidently isn't. Thomas has continually misrepresented income or flat-out omitted it from his disclosures and, when caught, continually claims either incompetence in filling out the forms or sniffed that the lavish vacations and other perks offered to him free of charge are not disclosable gifts because he and the billionaire Republican political activist are pals.
Clarence Thomas is ostensibly a justice of the Supreme Court. If there is anyone in America with access to legal advice about how government forms ought to be filled out, it is him. If it is truly beyond him to fill out a few legally mandated government forms without making countless mistakes, he has no business writing up judicial decisions in which he decides what U.S. laws mean for everybody else.
As we have all seen, Supreme Court justices are held to lower ethical standards than anyone else in government—or, at least, these current nine are. It is almost literally impossible for a justice to break ethics rules, and yet somehow Thomas continues to brazenly ignore one of the few remaining ethical requirements.
"The wealthy political activist who pays for my vacation getaways purchased a house from me in order to build a museum to me" is out of bounds even if Crow wasn't letting Thomas' mother keep living in the place. That's comic book levels of crooked. I mean, for f---s sake.
Clarence Thomas’ lavish vacation getaways are so corrupt, even Republicans think they're bogus
Billionaire Harlan Crow bought property from Clarence Thomas. The justice didn’t disclose the deal
The next chapter in the Thomas-Crow Affair: Shady real estate deals putting money in Thomas' pocket