Senate Committee Demands Complete List of Harlan Crowe Gifts to Clarence Thomas

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Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Republican superstar Harlan Crowe on Monday asking him to provide a full account of the gifts he made to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his family, further escalating the Democrats’ investigation into Thomas’ relationship with Crowe — despite House Republicans The elders prevented them from issuing any legislation in response.

key facts

The 11 Democrats on the Senate Committee sent a letter To Crow required him to provide a detailed list of any gifts over $415 that he or his companies had made to Thomas or any of his family members (or any other judges), as well as all real estate transactions, travel accommodations, and any entry to private members’ clubs.
The Democrats also sent letters to three companies that facilitated Thomas’s travel on Crewe’s private jet, luxury yacht, and at his private resort, Washington Post reports, requesting lists of guests whose travel overlapped with Thomas or another Supreme Court justice.

The letter requests a response by May 22.

The Senate letter follows a series of ProPublica reports detailing Thomas’ decades-long financial relationship with the Crow, including the real estate mogul who granted Thomas years of free luxury travel and trips to private resorts; Paying private school tuition for Thomas’ nephew and buying real estate from Thomas in 2014, including the house where Thomas’ mother still lives.
Thomas did not disclose any of these transactions as required by federal law. The inquiry about the other guests comes after ProPublica reported that Thomas vacationed at the Crow’s private resort and on his yacht with GOP donors, executives at Verizon and PricewaterhouseCoopers, and leaders from the right. American Enterprise Institute, Federal Assembly leader Leonard Leo, and Mark Paoletta, general counsel for the Trump administration’s Office of Management and Budget who now serves as attorney for Thomas’ wife.

Crow, through his company Crow Holdings, did not respond to a request for comment.

What to watch

It remains unclear what the Democrats’ next steps are in their investigation of Crow or what they will do if he does not respond to their request voluntarily. Committee chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) did not rule out the possibility of Democrats subpoenaing Crowe in an interview with CNN on Sunday, saying that “everything is on the table” when it comes to the committee’s next steps. The committee won’t be able to issue that subpoena until Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who was out of the Senate while recovering from shingles, returns, though. Durbin acknowledged on Sunday that the committee is now evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans in her absence, meaning there would not be a majority to approve the subpoena. (Feinstein signed the letter to Crowe.) While the Democrats said in their letter to Crowe that their investigation was part of an effort to pass legislation imposing a moral code on Supreme Court justices — who now don’t have to follow binding law like lower federal justices — it is unlikely to happen. Actually pass such legislation. Republican senators staunchly opposed any Democratic effort to force such a law on the court during a hearing last week, shaping Democrats’ criticism of Thomas as a left-wing, partisan campaign against the conservative-leaning court.

the shadow

The Senate judicial letter marks the second letter senators have sent to Crowe, after Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent his own letter to Crowe in April. That letter, which also requested a list of Crowe’s dealings with Thomas, required Crowe to respond by Monday. The Finance Committee has not yet responded to a request for comment on whether Crowe has responded.

The main critic

Thomas and Crewe both defended their financial relationship with one another. The judge issued a statement following ProPublica’s report on accepting flights from Crow, which said it was “informed that this kind of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who had no business before the court, was not reported” on the financial disclosures. In a statement to the outlet, Crowe also said that he and his wife “never sought to influence Judge Thomas on any legal or political issue,” and that he was “unaware” of any other guests when Thomas was traveling “at any time pressuring or seeking to influence Judge Thomas in any case.” Crowe added that he would “never invite anyone who I think has any intention of doing that”. Paoletta, who described himself as a friend of Thomas, issued a statement after a report on Crowe’s tuition payments was released, claiming that there was no need to report the payments because they were sent directly to the school and not to Thomas, though they cited ethics experts. by The New York Times I have opposed this argument.

main background

Thomas’ affair with Crowe was exposed after Justice had already come under fire for alleged ethical issues. Thomas has come under significant scrutiny of his wife Jenny Thomas’ right-wing activism, particularly her efforts to help overturn the 2020 election, which has led to widespread calls for him to be removed from the election and issues related to Jan. 6th. In the midst of the Crowe controversy, it was Washington Post I reported last week that Liu — a conservative justice activist who has spent billions to influence federal courts, including the Supreme Court — told then-pollustrator Kellyanne Conway in 2012 to pay Jenny Thomas “another $25,000” through a nonprofit group he advises, which he advises. Submitted a warrant to the Supreme Court. Liu asked Conway to hide that the payment was hers, and mail “No mention of Jenny, of course,” he tells us. Other Supreme Court justices have also faced ethical controversies in recent months, increasing pressure on the court to adopt a binding code of ethics. Faced with Republican resistance, the only way that’s likely to happen is for the Supreme Court to enforce a law itself. the mail Reportedly in February, the court was reported to have been debating how to adopt a code of ethics for years, but had yet to make any progress on that.

Further reading

Clarence Thomas: Here are all the Supreme Court justice’s ethics scandals amid new revelations (Forbes)

Here are the latest controversies Supreme Court justices have been caught up in — as the Senate hears a case for ethics rules (Forbes)

GOP senators slam Democrats’ “inappropriate” efforts to enforce the Supreme Court’s code of ethics (Forbes)
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