As revelations continue about Republican mega-donor Harlan Crow’s undisclosed gifts to Justice Clarence Thomas, Judiciary Committee Dems send letters to Mr. Crow and the holding companies that own his private jet, private yacht, and Topridge Camp
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined all of her Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic colleagues in sending letters to Republican mega-donor Harlan Crow and the holding companies that own his private jet, private yacht, and Topridge Camp. As revelations continue about Mr. Crow’s undisclosed gifts to Justice Clarence Thomas, the letters, led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL), seek to identify the full extent of Mr. Crow’s and the corporations’ gifts to Justice Thomas, what other individuals were able to gain special access to Justice Thomas, and any other Justices via the travel and lodging provided, and whether those individuals had interests before the Supreme Court.
“Recent investigative reporting has identified multiple instances in which you or entities you own or control have made payments, purchased real estate, or provided gifts, travel, or other items of value to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and members of his family. Many of these gifts, transactions, and items of value had not been previously disclosed by Justice Thomas, in apparent contravention of the Supreme Court’s April 25, 2023 ‘Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices’ which claimed that Justices since 1991 ‘have followed’ the financial disclosure requirements provided in the Judicial Conference Regulations, and other applicable obligations,” wrote the Senators in their letter to Mr. Crow. “You have issued several public statements acknowledging these items of value that you have given to Justice Thomas and his family members.”
The Senators’ letter continues, “As part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ongoing efforts to craft legislation strengthening the ethical rules and standards that apply to the Justices of the Supreme Court, we request that you provide the Committee with certain information by May 22, 2023. This information will help identify specific shortcomings in the ‘Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices,’ as well as current law, that legislation needs to address.”
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a full committee hearing entitled, “Supreme Court Ethics Reform.” The hearing emphasized the clear need for reform and examined common sense proposals to hold Justices to—at minimum—the same ethical standards as every other federal judge or high-ranking official in the federal government. During her question line, Senator Hirono highlighted the absurdity of the Supreme Court’s lack of a code of ethics, pointing out that nearly all other federal officials and employees, as well as employees of private sector companies, are subject to clear codes of conduct.
In addition to Senators Hirono and Durbin, the letters were signed by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).
Full text of the letter to Mr. Crow is available here.
Full text of the letter to the entity that owns Topridge Camp is available here.
Full text of the letter to the entity that owns the Michaela Rose yacht is available here.
Full text of the letter to the entity that owns Mr. Crow’s private plane is available here.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Hirono has consistently championed more robust ethics and accountability for the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court. Last week, she introduced the Stop Judge Shopping Act, legislation to combat “judge shopping” in federal courts by giving the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C.) exclusive jurisdiction over cases that would have national implications. Senator Hirono is also an original cosponsor of both the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023 and the Supreme Court Ethics Act, legislation that would, among other things, require a code of conduct for Supreme Court Justices. Last May, she also introduced a new version of the Twenty-First Century Court Act to promote accountability and increase transparency in federal courts. She also introduced the Judiciary Accountability Act of 2021, legislation to protect employees of the Federal judiciary from discrimination and harassment.