Clarence Thomas Was A More Frequent Flyer On Harlan Crow Air Than We Knew

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Ed. Note: Nicole Lafond will be back to helming Where Things Stand soon.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas went up and away into the wild blue yonder aboard billionaire GOP donor Harlan Crow’s private jet three other times that he hasn’t reported on his financial disclosure filings, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL).

Durbin’s revelation of the new information about Thomas’ travels came this afternoon, not even 24 hours after Senate Republicans killed a Durbin measure that would have imposed new ethics standards on the Supreme Court.

The demand for greater Supreme Court accountability has ramped up in the months since ProPublica published a Pulitzer Prize-winning series on freebies, gifts, and other financial benefits — including travel — that Crow had bestowed on Thomas but which Thomas had not included in his public financial disclosures.

Just last week, Thomas filed an amended 2019 report that for the first time included the travel that ProPublica had previously reported, a tacit though begrudging acknowledgement by Thomas that he should have included them in the original filing.

The three newly revealed trips announced today by Durbin were not included in Thomas’ amended filing last week.

The three previously unreported trips on Crow’s private jet include:

  • A May 2017 flight from St. Louis to Kalispell, Montana, with a return flight to Dallas;
  • A March 2019 round-trip flight between Washington, D.C. and Savannah, Georgia;
  • A June 2021 round-trip flight between Washington, D.C., and San Jose, California.

Durbin obtained the information about the three flights via a Judiciary Committee subpoena of Crow last November. You can see a portion of the relevant response from Crow’s lawyer here. It’s not clear when the committee obtained Crow’s responses or why Durbin released them today.

In a statement to CBS News, Crow’s office said he had reached an agreement with the committee to provide certain information going back seven years to resolve the matter.

Despite his serious and continued concerns about the legality and necessity of the inquiry, Mr. Crow engaged in good faith negotiations with the Committee from the beginning to resolve the matter. As a condition of this agreement, the Committee agreed to end its probe with respect to Mr. Crow.

Durbin has been a very reluctant warrior on Supreme Court ethics oversight, dismissing as useless the prospect of holding public committee hearings on the court’s ethical lapses and lack of institutional accountability. But Durbin did launch an investigation last fall and has slowly budged in recent days, a result of a combination of outside pressure and a new round of news reports about insurrectionist flags flying outside two of Justice Samuel Alito’s homes.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Supreme Court’s ethical crisis is producing new information — like what we’ve revealed today — and makes it crystal clear that the highest court needs an enforceable code of conduct, because its members continue to choose not to meet the moment,” Durbin said in a press release.

Crow owns a Bombardier Global 5000, ProPublica previously reported. It’s a long-range, twin-engine business jet with a reported range of more than 5,000 nautical miles and cruising speed upwards of 560 m.p.h.

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Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for tpr tpr says:

    I never would have guessed that Thomas was receiving more gifts than he has already grudgingly disclosed after extensive, shaming media coverage.


  2. This smells more and more like Trump’s classified documents saga - get caught, admit to at least that, continue to hide the rest of the sordid story, get caught again, rinse and repeat. How many iterations of this do we have to go through before SCOTUS gets flushed clean?

    With each new revelation, it becomes more and more clear that an enforceable SCOTUS code of ethics is absolutely necessary, and even more so, that Thomas does not deserve a seat on The Supreme Court, or on any court at any level.

  3. SC Justices cannot be held accountable for their rulings even if they are bizarre. But they better be above reproach in their personal and business life. Keep the pressure on!

  4. Avatar for tpr tpr says:

    Lifetime earnings for an average American born in 1982 are $2.43 million.1

    To the best of the public’s knowledge, Clarence Thomas has received at least $4.2 million in secret gifts from a handful of businessmen.

    That’s 1.7x a whole person’s lifetime income, all unreported, because a Supreme Court Justice alleges he could not understand reporting rules that were written precisely so people like him could understand them.

    1 Average male with a Bachelor’s degree. Source: The Knowles Group, quoting the Social Security Administration. (Knowles appears to be a forensic economist who specializes in providing expert testimony.) Also, I may have misinterpreted the graph.

  5. People are saying that Clarence and Harlan got a thing going on. Lots of people. Mile high club.

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