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Friend of Justice Thomas Refutes Allegations He Broke Ethics Rules With Proof

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A friend of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has said that there is plenty of documentation disproving allegations that he has routinely flouted ethics rules by failing to disclose vacation trips with another friend, Harlan Crow, a billionaire businessman and GOP donor.

An investigation conducted by left-leaning ProPublica in April claimed that Thomas’ close relationship with real estate developer Crow afforded him various privileges, including joining the Texas billionaire on lavish vacations aboard his private jet and yacht, as well as enjoying complimentary stays at Crow’s extensive vacation property.

But Mark Paoletta, a staunch defender of Thomas, has come to his defense amidst scrutiny from Senate Democrats regarding potential violations of court ethics laws related to those trips, Fox News reported.

Paoletta took to Twitter to assert that Thomas has consistently adhered to governing ethics rules, emphasizing the existence of a paper trail as evidence supporting his claims.

“Justice Thomas complied with ethics law when he didn’t disclose trips under personal hospitality exception,” Paoletta tweeted. “In 2011/12, Judicial Conference specifically reviewed complaints Thomas hadn’t properly disclosed trips and concluded Thomas acted properly in not disclosing.”

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“After complaints filed in Jan 2011 on Thomas not disclosing wife’s salary, which was inadvertent, there were complaints submitted based on June 2011 NYT [New York Times] story on Thomas traveling on Harlan Crow plane & boat & staying at Crow’s summer home, Topridge,” continued Paoletta.

“In September 29, 2011 letter signed by Rep. Slaughter and 20 Members to Judicial Conference, Members cited [a New York Times] story that Justice Thomas had violated law by not disclosing his trips on Crow’s plane and boat on his forms,” Paoletta wrote.

“Judicial Conference wrote back to Congress on October 14, 2011, and said this letter was referred to Judicial Conference Committee on Financial Disclosure for review,” he added.

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Paoletta went on to say that on April 30, 2012, the Judicial Conference responded to Congress saying the panel reviewed the allegations in a Sept. 29 letter and “concluded that nothing has been presented to support a determination that Justice Thomas . . willfully or improperly failed to disclose information concerning travel reimbursements.”

“Thus, Judicial Conference specifically reviewed allegations in 2011/12 that Justice Thomas had violated law by not disclosing his trips on Crow’s plane and boat pursuant to personal hospitality exception and Judicial Conference AGREED Thomas was correct in not disclosing,” Paoletta wrote.

He went on to say that a May 15 letter to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., from the conference “summarized findings that ‘nothing had been presented to support a determination that … Justice Thomas willfully or improperly failed to disclose information concerning travel reimbursements.’”

Paoletta noted further that under the Ethics in Government Act, the designated body to “issue interpretive guidance, review reports, and determine compliance for the judiciary” is the Judicial Conference.

In a follow-up tweet, Paoletta raised doubts about whether the authors of the April Pro Publica article had consulted the Judicial Conference to inquire if any rulings had been made regarding the allegations.

“You cite left wing ‘ethics experts,’ whose views are just partisan opinions, but I don’t see anything in your original article that you checked with Judicial Conference,” Paoletta said.

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