Thursday, April 18, 2024

Unfit: Clarence Thomas Hid Real Estate Deal with GOP Billionaire

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If you thought the Nazi memorabilia collector secretly funding Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was bad, just hold on. It appears that Clarence Thomas might have violated the law in the process of hiding a real estate deal with that same Republican billionaire.

Harlan Crow, the same Nazi collector guy, bought property from Clarence Thomas in 2014. Clarence Thomas did not disclose this real estate deal, which is to say, he hid it. (Not disclosing things has become a Thomas theme.)

“One of Texas billionaire Harlan Crow’s companies quietly bought several lots on a residential street in Savannah, GA. The seller? Crow’s friend & travel companion Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas,” ProPublica summarized.

“The transaction marks the first known instance of money flowing from the Republican megadonor to the Supreme Court justice. The Crow company bought the properties for $133,363 from three co-owners — Thomas, his mother and the family of Thomas’ late brother, according to a state tax document and a deed dated Oct. 15, 2014, filed at the Chatham County courthouse,” ProPublica reported.

Justices have to disclose the details of real estate sales over $1,000.

Here is Thomas’ signature on the deed for his deal with Crow + the vacant lots Crow bought from Thomas. pic.twitter.com/fXkBa34Vxe

— Justin Elliott (@JustinElliott) April 13, 2023

“Thomas never disclosed his sale of the Savannah properties. That appears to be a violation of the law, four ethics law experts told ProPublica.”

It also means that Harlan Crow, billionaire Nazi memorabilia collector, owned the house where Clarence Thomas’ mother was living, as pointed out by ProPublica.

“Justice Thomas didn’t respond to our detailed questions. Crow sent us this statement about his plans to create a museum to tell Thomas’ story at one of the houses he bought,” Justin Elliot, a ProPublica reporter shared on Twitter.

Harlan the Nazi collector Crow issued a statement attempting to dismiss the criticism stemming from the revelation by claiming he bought the home as part of a historic project in Savannah, Georgia.

However, “This Crow statement is absurd. What price was paid to Thomas vs market rate will be important BUT no matter it still had to be disclosed,” Andrew Weissmann, who spent 20 years at the DOJ, wrote.

“Given the role Crow has played in subsidizing the lifestyle of Thomas and his wife, you have to wonder if this was an effort to put cash in their pockets,” Virginia Canter, a former government ethics lawyer now at CREW told ProPublica.

No matter what they did with this transaction, even if it was all above board, it needed to be disclosed. The fact that it wasn’t simply shines a light on the need to probe further (real estate deals are prevalent money laundering schemes).

This news came right after the bombshell that Crow was secretly funding Thomas for years. If Thomas had built up any kind of ethical bank at this point, this would still appear to be a violation of the law.

But the problem for Thomas is that he has the opposite of an ethical bank with the voters of the United States. His wife Ginni Thomas tried to overthrow the government. He failed to recuse himself from matters she and her activist groups pushed before the court. He ruled on the Affordable Care act, while his wife Ginni was paid to lobby against the law. He forgot to disclose his wife’s income from lobbying against the healthcare law. He failed to recuse himself from Senator Lindsey Graham’s case, which, Laurence Tribe pointed out, federal law required him to do.

Tribe continued with a warning that seems especially ominous now as he wrote this in 2022, “In government, even Alexander Hamilton’s ‘least dangerous’ branch — the judiciary — becomes dangerous when there is no enforcement mechanism behind a law.”

Yet that is exactly the argument Thomas seems to make for himself and his wife — they are above the law, they will not enforce the law when it comes to causes they support, and Thomas will not enforce the law when he chooses not to, when it benefits him or a cause he cares about.

When all of the decent lawyers agree that his actions are beyond troublesome, so much so that they actually undermine the rule of law, it’s past time for our institutions to step up.

And agree decent lawyers do. Here is Emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and contributing editor for the Atlantic Norm Ornstein on this matter, saying Thomas is “unfit for the bench”:

“Simply devastating. Clear cut violations of the law by Clarence Thomas. Repeated efforts to cover it up. Unfit for the bench.”

This should be the tipping point for his ongoing corruption. Clarence Thomas is unfit for the bench and every moment he remains on it, the court loses legitimacy.

Sale documents:

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/23774051-sales-document-pt61

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