Justice Clarence Thomas explains failure to report trips paid for by conservative billionaire

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas during the formal group photograph at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, US, on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022.

Eric Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday explained his failure to disclose trips paid for by his friend, conservative billionaire Harlan Crow.

Thomas said in a statement that Crow and his wife Kathy are “dearest friends” who they have joined on family trips for years.

“Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable,” Thomas said.

“I have endeavored to follow that counsel throughout my tenure, and have always sought to comply with the disclosure guidelines,” he added.

Thomas noted that he would comply with changes made to disclosure rules that were announced last month. Those revisions made it clear that trips on private jets and stays at privately owned resorts like one Crow owns in upstate New York would have to be disclosed.

The change to disclosure rules tightened an exemption for “personal hospitality” that was not strictly defined.

That tweak was made just weeks before the ProPublica article published Thursday detailed extravagant trips that conservative Thomas allegedly took that were funded by Crow.

Thomas did not disclose these trips — allegedly including travel in Crow’s private jet and visits to the private resort — on his annual financial disclosure statements. Under the rules that existed until recently, he may not have been required to.

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