By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 1, 2023 ~
After the public interest news outlet, ProPublica, revealed more grifting by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in April, the Supreme Court finally released the much delayed financial disclosure form for calendar year 2022 for Thomas yesterday. Thomas grudgingly provided details of some of that grifting involving billionaire Harlan Crow.
But this latest grifting saga is just the tip of the iceberg for Thomas and his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas.
In 2011 the watchdog group, Protect our Elections, filed a bar complaint with the Missouri Supreme Court. At the time, Thomas was admitted to practice law in the State. The complaint asked for the disbarment of Thomas on the following grounds:
“Clarence Thomas breached his legal duty and violated the Rules of Professional Conduct by knowingly and willfully failing for 20 years to state truthfully on required AO 10 Financial Disclosure Forms that his wife Virginia earned non-investment income. Clarence Thomas further labored under a financial conflict of interest by failing to disclose $100,000 in support for his nomination by the Citizens United Foundation when he sat in judgment of a case involving Citizens United. Finally, he made rulings that his wife benefited from financially and professionally, and by extension, that benefited him. In short, this unethical and criminal conduct violates the Rules of Professional Conduct, and undermines the rule of law, respect for the law and confidence in the law.”
The Citizens United decision from the U.S. Supreme Court is the decision that corrupted political campaign financing in the U.S. by opening the spigots to unlimited corporate money flooding into political campaigns. That, in turn, effectively handed the will of the people over to billionaire kleptocrats – those that Clarence Thomas can’t seem to get enough of.
Wall Street On Parade previously reported that Thomas failed to report at least $1,051,214 that his wife Ginni Thomas had received in compensation from the Heritage Foundation from 1999 through 2007. Heritage, in turn, was heavily funded by billionaires Charles Koch, his late brother, David, and foundations or trusts tied to them.
Charles Koch is a major owner of Koch Industries, a fossil fuels juggernaut whose front group, Freedom Partners, played a major role in the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. The Kochs have also been major funders of the climate change denial front groups and the invisible hand, full of political dough, in every major election. (See our detailed analysis of the Koch machine here.)
In 2008, the same year that the Supreme Court accepted the Citizens United case, Thomas dined with one of the Koch brothers, Charles, and his wife, Elizabeth, at the private Vintage Club in Indian Wells, California, during a four-day stay on the West Coast.
At the time of our reporting in 2011, we confirmed with a spokesperson for the Vintage Club that it restricts dining to members and their guests. Membership requires owning a home in the private, high security community, where homes run in double-digit millions of dollars. The spokesperson confirmed at the time that Charles Koch is a member of the Vintage Club and owned a home in the community. The Supreme Court would not reveal to us where Thomas stayed during this four-day visit to California.
While the Citizens United case was pending before the Supreme Court, Ginni Thomas created a tax-exempt organization called Liberty Central, Inc., with a former lawyer for the Charles G. Koch Foundation, Sarah Field, acting as her General Counsel. A former Koch lobbyist, Matt Schlapp, served on the Board of Directors of Liberty Central at inception.
From 2009 to 2011, Liberty Central raked in more than $1.5 million in donations from dark money donors. According to Liberty Central’s 2010 public tax filing, it paid Ginni Thomas $120,511 in compensation that year.
Liberty Central appears to have morphed into “Liberty Consulting.” From 2011 through 2022, Clarence Thomas shows on his financial disclosure forms that his wife was receiving “salary and benefits” from Liberty Consulting. But there is no dollar amount or range of salary and benefits shown.
It is an outrage to the American people that Clarence Thomas’s wife – who played a role in the effort to undermine the peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 presidential election — does not have to report her income or the dark money donors who fund that income as part of a sitting Supreme Court Justice’s financial disclosure forms.
Something tells us that we have not heard the end of this story.