Breaking: Justice Thomas 2022 Financial-Disclosure Form Clears Up Past Errors, Undermines Corruption Allegations

The Judicial Conference released Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s 2022 financial disclosure form on Thursday, amid heightened scrutiny over his disclosures due to several accusations of ethical impropriety from the mainstream media and left-wing groups.

The disclosure form, along with a statement from Thomas's attorney, by Elliot S. Berke, refute many of the allegations made against the justice and suggest any errors in past disclosures were inadvertent.

"Justice Thomas's critics allege that he failed to report gifts from wealthy friends. Untrue,” Berke said in a statement. “He has never accepted a gift from anyone with business before the Court. For anyone who knows him at all, it is clear that no one influences Justice Clarence Thomas's jurisprudence. But friends are dear, close, and separate. He has included all other reportable gifts on his disclosure forms.”

“Much of the noise to the contrary is based on malicious and sloppy reporting and attacks from partisans who disagree with his jurisprudence and want to drive him and others off the Court," he added.

"The report released today also includes the disclosure of personal bank accounts and life insurance held by Justice Thomas's wife, the inadvertent misnaming of his spouse's family real estate holding, as well as information regarding a real estate transaction in 2014 that resulted in a capital loss, which were inadvertently omitted from prior reports," he added.

Much has been made over Thomas's relationship with Harlan Crow, particularly because Thomas had not disclosed trips he took with Crow that included flights on private jets and vacation stays at the billionaire’s home.

However, Thomas’s attorney notes that before a change in guidance on March 14, 2023, “transportation that substitutes for commercial transportation,” as related to the personal hospitality reporting provision, was previously considered exempt from reporting. Because the new requirement took effect in March and applies to the 2022 disclosure filing, Thomas has “included all reportable private travel” from 2022 in his new disclosure. 

“The financial disclosure rules have nothing to do with permitting travel or gifts. They establish reporting requirements,” Berke said.

The filing of the form comes after Thomas requested an extension on the May 15 deadline.

The disclosure form shows three trips in 2022 in which Crow funded Thomas's travel — two of which were trips in which Thomas served as keynote speaker at the American Enterprise Institute’s Old Parkland conferences in Dallas, Texas.

In the first instance, the disclosure form says Thomas flew private on his return trip from Dallas in February 2022 due to an "unexpected ice storm." A friend of the justice's tells National Review Thomas had paid for his own commercial flights on Southwest airlines for the trip, before his return travel was thwarted by the storm.

Crow then paid for transportation and meals for Thomas when the justice once again served as the keynote speaker at another American Enterprise Institute conference in Dallas, Texas, from May 12 to 14. The form explains Thomas flew private for the conference because his security detail recommended noncommercial travel whenever possible because of the "increased security risk following the Dobbs opinion leak."

Crow then paid for Thomas's transportation, meals and lodging for a July 7 to 13 trip to the Adirondacks, where Crow's Camp Topridge is located. The trip is listed under "reimbursements" on the form, "according to advice from the staff of the Judicial Conference Financial Disclosure Committee, which advised against including it under ‘gifts,’" Thomas explains on the form. 

Also under the reimbursement section, Thomas listed transportation, meals and lodging he received from the Hatch Center when he was a featured speaker in Salt Lake City, Utah, from March 10 to 12.

Thomas reported nothing under the gifts section of the form.

The new disclosure form also corrects an “inadvertent” error on previous forms, in which Thomas incorrectly referred to his wife’s family real estate holding as Ginger LTD, Partnership, when in fact the name had been changed to Ginger Holdings LLC.

It acknowledges Thomas’s personal bank accounts at Congressional Federal Credit Union and his wife’s life insurance were “inadvertently” omitted from previous reports. Thomas “believed that personal bank accounts were exempt from reporting disclosure,” the new disclosure form says. The combined bank account balances at year-end for each year between 2017 and 2021 fell anywhere between less than $50,000 to less than $110,000 and earned anywhere from less than $200 in interest to less than $400 in interest. 

The life insurance policy’s year-end cash value was under $100,000 each year during that time period and accounted for anywhere from $2,500 or less in income to $5,000 or less in income.

The filing also addresses a 2014 real estate transaction involving three properties in Savannah, Ga., that Thomas inherited with his mother and brother in 1984. In 2014, Crow purchased the properties for $133,000 with the intent to preserve the home Thomas’s mother was living in for a possible museum. Thomas’s attorney said Crow did not know Thomas had a one-third interest in the property when he raised the idea of purchasing it.

The deal also included the purchase of other homes in the area as part of a “mini urban renewal project.” Crow also provided a life estate to Thomas’s mother to continue to live in the home for the rest of her life without rent.

Thomas’s mother’s home was never included on the justice’s financial-disclosure reports because it was never rented or held for investment. The other two properties were included on previous reports because they were rented and generated a small income. In 2009, the last year the properties were included on Thomas’s reports, they generated just $1,200 in gross rents, which meant just $400 in income for Thomas.

Neither property generated income after 2009, at which point Thomas says he was advised by Supreme Court officers and the Financial Disclosure Committee staff to remove these properties from future disclosure reports. Both properties became dilapidated and were ultimately torn down by the city. 

“All the purchases on 32nd Street in Savannah made by Mr. Crow were arms-length transactions at fair market value. Justice and Mrs. Thomas had put between $50,000 to $75,000 into his mother's home in capital improvements over the years. The total proceeds from the sale to Justice Thomas were $44,000, and, therefore, the transaction amounted to a capital loss,” Thomas’s attorney explains.

Thomas therefore “inadvertently failed to realize that the ‘sales transaction’ for the property triggered a new reportable transaction in 2014, even though this sale resulted in a capital loss. He has now reported that transaction in Part VIII of his 2022 report,” the attorney writes.

“After reviewing Justice Thomas's records, I am confident there has been no willful ethics transgression, and any prior reporting errors were strictly inadvertent,” he said.

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Justice Thomas 2022 Financial-Disclosure Form Clears Up Past Errors, Undermines Corruption Allegations

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