Senate Democrats Ask For Investigation Of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas


In a letter sent last week, two Democratic senators called on the U.S. attorney general to put together a special counsel investigation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas over a series of potential ethical and tax law violations.

Recent reports have found that Thomas has repeatedly failed to disclose travel, gifts and other benefits given by wealthy businessmen in his financial disclosure reports, as required by federal law.

A 2023 ProPublica investigation revealed that Thomas had accepted two luxury trips in 2019 paid for by Republican mega-donor Harlan Crow that were not listed on disclosure forms. Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating these possible violations, found that Thomas had also left out at least three other paid private jet trips from 2017 to 2021 on his disclosures.

In the letter, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), chair of the Judiciary subcommittee on federal courts, and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special counsel to investigate the potential violations of ethics rules and tax laws, along with false statements, involving Thomas’ receipt of favors from wealthy political donors.

“We do not make this request lightly,” the lawmakers wrote. “The evidence assembled thus far plainly suggests that Justice Thomas has committed numerous willful violations of federal ethics and false-statement laws and raises significant questions about whether he and his wealthy benefactors have complied with their federal tax obligations

“Presented with opportunities to resolve questions about his conduct, Justice Thomas has maintained a suspicious silence.”

Aside from investigating the undisclosed gifts, the letter also asks for a special counsel to determine whether the justice violated federal ethics and tax laws by failing to repay a significant portion of a loan of more than $267,000 that he used to purchase a luxury vehicle and then failing to disclose the forgiven debt as income on his ethics filings.

This information, which was found in an investigation by Wyden’s committee, raised questions about whether the justice also properly reported the forgiven loan amount in his tax filings.

Thomas’ lawyer Elliot S. Berke has previously said that the justice tried to comply with financial disclosures of gifts and travel as they existed at the time.

“Justice Thomas has always strived for full transparency and adherence to the law, including with respect to what personal travel needed to be reported,” Berke said in a statement last year, adding that any errors were “strictly inadvertent.”

According to The Washington Post, Garland has appointed only three special counsels during his tenure: to oversee investigations involving former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

HuffPost reached out to the Justice Department for comment on whether Garland is considering putting together the special counsel but did not receive an immediate response.

Thomas has taken more than $4 million in gifts over the past three decades, but he isn’t the only one accepting such favors. His fellow justices have accepted gifts with a combined value of $248,000, according to a report from the judicial reform group Fix the Court.