At this point, the notion that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is anything less than crooked is getting increasingly hard to believe. Thomas has made significant errors and omissions in his mandated financial disclosures for decades now, but it turned absurd with recent revelations that Thomas and his spouse are the frequent recipients of lavish vacation getaways on behalf of billionaire Republican donor and judicial activist Harlan Crow—very expensive gifts that the Supreme Court Justice never bothered to disclose because the Republican billionaire is a "friend," and who among us doesn't sit on the Supreme Court while simultaneously receiving extravagant gifts from our billionaire friends?
Then we learned that Crow's generosity also included purchasing from Thomas the Savannah home that Thomas' mother still lives in. And that he spent a five-figure sum on renovating the property. Oh, and that Crow purchased it with the intent of building a museum in Clarence Thomas' honor.
CNN's new report fleshes out the 2014 sale to Crow, and one of its terms was that Thomas' mother would be allowed to live in the house rent-free for the rest of her life. She pays property taxes and insurance, but Crow doesn't charge rent. Thomas was able to gain a guaranteed place for his mother to live out her remaining years, while simultaneously closing a deal that will someday net him a monument to his own greatness, and having Crow's managers handle any further required renovations after the sale is a minor boon as well. Or maybe it isn't; it doesn't matter. Thomas' failure to disclose the transaction appears to have broken federal disclosure law, whether Thomas was helped or hurt by it.
By the time it was reported that Thomas and his spouse had collected up to $750,000 in income from a company that hasn't existed since 2006, the whole thing was already a farce. It's quite obvious Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has contempt for the whole notion of filing the required financial disclosures, and that despite being among the most powerful figures in all the nation, he apparently has neither the mental fortitude nor enough legal assistance to fill out government paperwork.
If you're familiar with any of Thomas' work on actual Supreme Court cases, that's not terribly surprising. When it comes to omitting inconvenient details and regularly inventing new theories to explain why most of the other details never mattered to begin with, Thomas' opinions are masterpieces. Of course Thomas doesn't think "a billionaire Republican activist-donor who sponsors my vacation lifestyle purchased my mom's house so that he can build a museum honoring my greatness" would rise to the level of reportable income. It falls in the narrow disclosure gap outlined by subsection I Don't Have To, paragraph Bite Me.
CNN now has some new upstates on the land-deal story, and none of it is any better for Thomas than it was before. Thomas now says he intends to amend his financial disclosures, yet again, to disclose the 2014 sale of his mother's house to Crow. According to a "source close to Thomas," Thomas believed the sale wasn't required to be disclosed because he allegedly "lost money" in the transaction.
This is absolute hokum, and Thomas is always a real hard-ass when deciding cases in which a defendant was confused about the rules and got wrecked by our legal systems because of it. He despises the idea that you're allowed a second chance if your lawyer accidentally flubs your case due to an egregious oversight. He despises the idea that you should get a chance to correct the record. When it comes to himself, he's still regularly re-re-updating disclosure forms filed during the Obama administration.
To repeat: All of this is ridiculous. Absurd. The notion that a sitting Supreme Court justice would be living a lavish vacation lifestyle at the expense of one of Republicanism's most consequential justice-tweakers and it's all fine, according to Thomas, because he really likes the guy, is asinine. Piling on news that the Supreme Court justice's mom lives rent-free in the house that the billionaire bought specifically to construct a museum in the justice's honor turns the whole thing cartoonish.
It's brazenly, almost gleefully corrupt. It's another case of our top institutions being stuffed with people who are there to break whatever rules they want while, at the same time, their allies preen to the press about how horrifying it is that anyone would even dare to ask questions about that. Good God, these people. It's not just Thomas; the whole Supreme Court looks crooked with these revelations. And, because Thomas won't face even a hint of repercussions for his Crow dealings, the court will be crooked. It doesn't go away just because the rest of the court doesn't want to address it.
Clarence Thomas’ lavish vacation getaways are so corrupt, even Republicans think they're bogus
The next chapter in the Thomas-Crow Affair: Shady real estate deals putting money in Thomas' pocket
Justice Clarence Thomas has reported up to $750,000 in income from a company that doesn't exist
On today’s episode, Markos and Kerry are joined by a friend of the podcast, Democratic political strategist Simon Rosenberg. Rosenberg was one of the few outsiders who, like Daily Kos, kept telling the world that nothing supported the idea of a red wave. Simon and the crew break down his strategy for Democratic candidates to achieve a 55% popular vote in all elections—a number that a few years ago would have seemed unattainable, but now feels within reach.