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ICYMI: Thomas has accepted $4M in gifts during career: Watchdog [The Hill]

Jun 07, 2024

End Citizens United // Let America Vote (ECU // LAV) Action Fund President Tiffany Muller issued the following statement on reports about Justice Thomas receiving over $4 million in gifts throughout his career:

“The staggering number and value of ‘gifts’ Justice Thomas has accepted proves that his impartiality is compromised and wealthy donors are exploiting his corruption to influence the Supreme Court. Unless Congress implements a tough and enforceable code of ethics, the far-right justices will continue to abuse their positions of power for personal financial gain. It’s high time for Supreme Court reform.”

The Hill: Thomas has accepted $4M in gifts during career: Watchdog

Lauren Irwin

Supreme Court justices have received nearly $5 million in gifts since the early 2000s, and one justice in particular, Justice Clarence Thomas, accounts for nearly all of it.

Data released Thursday by watchdog group Fix the Court unveils a list of gifts justices have received since January 2004. The dataset was released ahead of an expected release of the justices’ financial disclosure reports Friday.

Thomas, nominated to the high court by former President George H.W. Bush, made headlines last year after an investigation found he had taken dozens of trips paid for by separate billionaire friends.

According to the data compiled by Fix the Court, since 2004, Thomas has accepted $4,042,286, or 193 gifts. The group reported that, for Thomas, there’s an additional 126 “likely but not confirmed gifts.”

Of the nearly 200 gifts, the group said Thomas only reported 27 of the gifts on his financial disclosures.

The dataset included current and former justices dating back to 2004, tallying their gift totals, including Thomas’s, to be about $4.7 million.

“Supreme Court justices should not be accepting gifts, let alone the hundreds of freebies worth millions of dollars they’ve received over the years,” Fix the Court’s Gabe Roth said in a statement. “Public servants who make four times the median local salary, and who can make millions writing books on any topic they like, can afford to pay for their own vacations, vehicles, hunting excursions and club memberships.”

Roth continued, arguing that there is influence in who gives the justices gifts and what they are buying with their “generosity.”

“The ethics crisis at the court won’t begin to abate until justices adopt stricter gift acceptance rules,” he said.

The watchdog group acknowledged that the total gift calculations may be lower than what’s actually true. For example, the group was unable to verify a hunting lodge that Justice Antonin Scalia stayed in, and Scalia, along with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and William Rehnquist, died in office, so the numbers “might be undercounts.”

Scalia received the second-highest total in gifts, with $210,164 from Jan. 2004 to his death in 2016.

The list of gifts comes after Democrats called for Justice Samuel Alito to recuse himself from cases related to Jan. 6 and former President Trump currently before the court in light of reports that a “Stop the Steal” flag was flown outside his house after the attack on the Capitol.

Last week, Alito rejected the calls to recuse himself in the cases.

Alito received the third-most gifts, with $170,095 from his first day on Jan. 31, 2006, to present day, the data said.