Laws and Justice

Senate Democrats Request Special Counsel to Investigate Justice Thomas for Ethics Violations

Main image to the post Senate Democrats Request Special Counsel to Investigate Justice Thomas for Ethics Violations

Senate Democrats Request Special Counsel to Investigate Justice Thomas' Financial Disclosures

Two Democratic senators, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Ron Wyden of Oregon, have called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special counsel to investigate potential violations of federal tax and ethics laws by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

In a letter dated July 3rd, the senators cited evidence of "repeated and willful" omissions of gifts and income from Thomas' annual financial disclosure reports. They argued that the extent of the alleged violations warrants a special counsel investigation, stating that "the public must have confidence that the judiciary and the Department of Justice execute their responsibilities fairly, impartially, and without respect to political expedience or partisan interests."

The senators' request stems from Senate investigations and public reports detailing travel Thomas accepted from Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, which he did not disclose on his financial reports. While Thomas has maintained that he did not believe he was required to report the trips, he has pledged to comply with new disclosure guidelines issued by the Judicial Conference.

However, Whitehouse and Wyden believe that Thomas has accepted undisclosed gifts and income potentially worth millions of dollars. They point to a $267,000 loan connected to Thomas' purchase of a recreational vehicle in 1999, which was forgiven by a friend without being reported as income. Additionally, they cite gifts from Crow and other wealthy individuals, including flights aboard private planes, yacht trips, and lodging.

The senators argue that these gifts should have been disclosed under federal ethics laws and raise the possibility of tax violations by the businessmen involved. They contend that the evidence suggests "numerous willful violations of federal ethics and false-statement laws" and warrants further investigation.

A representative for Thomas did not respond to a request for comment. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are expected to release a report this summer with the findings from their investigation into ethics practices at the Supreme Court.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09