Wyden Strikes Back At Harlan Crow’s Lawyer For Dodging His Inquiry About Thomas Gifts

Associate US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas poses for the official photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on October 7, 2022. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a lengthy letter to the attorney of Harlan Crow—the GOP mega-donor who was recently exposed for showering Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in luxury trips and gifts for decades – rebutting claims that Congress didn’t have the authority to inquire about Crow’s gifting.

In a six-page letter shared with TPM on Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee chairman reupped questions he’d asked in April, while responding to a May 8 letter from Crow’s attorney Michael D. Bopp.

Bopp argued that Congress had neither the legislative purpose nor authority to ask for the information requested from Crow. Wyden slapped down that argument in response.

“These assertions are without merit,” he wrote. “A cursory review of the Committee’s activities demonstrates longstanding oversight and legislative interests in gift and estate tax laws.”

The Oregon Democrat went on to deconstruct Bopp’s claims before reiterating his prior request for details from Crow. “It goes without saying, but Mr. Crow is not a branch of government,” Wyden said in a separate statement. “My hope is that with the issue of committee jurisdiction settled, Mr. Crow provides answers to the questions I’ve put before him a second time.”

He concluded that Bopp’s argument does not align with established tax law—but not without sneaking in a jab at Crow himself.

“If Mr. Crow needs any further clarification, he might find it helpful to refer to the considerable amount of analysis his own law firm has done on the committee’s tax policy work,” Wyden said in his statement. 

This all comes after ProPublica released a bombshell investigation on April 6 revealing that Thomas had received international trips from Crow, a Texas real estate magnate who’s donated millions of dollars to conservative causes. It was later revealed that Crow had also bought three properties from Thomas, deals the justice never reported, including the house Thomas’ mother reportedly still lives in.

Wednesday’s letter serves as a follow-up to another correspondence Wyden sent Crow last month. Disturbed by the extent of Crow’s largesse to Thomas, the senator requested on April 24 that Crow provide evidence that his lavish gifting complied with federal tax rules.

“This unprecedented arrangement between a wealthy benefactor and a Supreme Court justice raises serious concerns related to federal tax and ethics laws,” the senator wrote in his first letter to the mega-donor.

The Senate Finance Committee chairman hinted at taking more forceful actions in the future.

“I realize the committee may need to follow another route to compel his answers,” Wyden said in a statement to TPM Wednesday, “and I’m prepared to make that happen.”

Read the full letter below:

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