WASHINGTON — Democratic allegations that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to properly disclose trips and gifts paid by wealthy GOP donor Harlan Crow in violation of the law have been referred to a Judicial Committee reviewing financial disclosures .
Roslynn R. Mauskopf, the director of the United States Judiciary Conference, said in a letter Tuesday to two Democratic lawmakers that she had relayed her concerns about Thomas and a recent ProPublica report to the committee.
“I have forwarded your letter to the Judicial Conference Committee on Financial Disclosure, which has responsibility for enforcing the disclosure provisions of the Ethics in Government Act and for addressing allegations of errors or omissions in the filing of financial disclosure reports,” she wrote in the letter, obtained from NBC News.
The letter came in response to one sent to the Judiciary Conference last week by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, DR.I., and Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., that outlined ProPublica’s coverage of Thomas, who presents and Crow’s luxury travel and the sale of Thomas-related real estate to the billionaire.
Members of Congress, citing ProPublica, wrote that Thomas failed to report the 2014 sale of his interest in three properties in Savannah, Georgia to Crow. The two Democrats said it appeared to be “a direct violation” of US law.
“Justice Thomas’ failure to report this transaction is part of an apparent pattern of non-compliance with disclosure requirements,” wrote the members, who listed details of the luxury trips and gifts Thomas accepted from Crow and which he also did not participate in the disclosures attended.
“In light of this story, there is at least reasonable reason to believe that Judge Thomas intentionally flouted disclosure requirements to report the sale of his interest in the Savannah properties in order to hide the extent of his financial relationship with Crow,” lawmakers said .
In response to the ProPublica story, Thomas said in a statement that he and Crow are friends and that: “Early on in my tenure on the court, I sought advice from my peers and others in the judiciary and was advised that this type of personal hospitality from close personal friends who had nothing to do with the court was not reportable.”
In a separate letter Tuesday to Whitehouse and Johnson, Mauskopf declined to respond to questions they had asked about advice judges and Supreme Court justices may have sought from the Judiciary Conference on certain financial disclosure requirements.
In March, just weeks before ProPublica reported on the gifts and vacations, the federal Department of Justice announced that it had tightened its rules on what judges and magistrates must include in annual financial statements.
Committees within the conference can review relevant issues and make policy recommendations to the full panel. Chief Justice John Roberts is the President of the Judicial Conference and its membership consists of the Chief Justice of each judicial district, the Chief Justice of the Court of International Trade and one District Judge from each regional judicial district.
CORRECTION (April 19, 2023 4:39 PM ET): In a previous version of this article, the last name of the director of the United States Judiciary Conference was misspelled. She’s Roslynn R. Mousehead, not Mousehead.