The New York Times has uncovered that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a network of connections to wealth and opulent vacations that extend beyond his association with billionaire businessman and controversial figure Harlan Crow, known for his affinity for Nazi memorabilia.
According to the report, Thomas has exploited his ties with affluent individuals he met through the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, a prestigious scholarship organization, for personal gain, benefiting himself and his wife, Virginia.
Thanks to their Horatio Alger connections, the Thomases have gained exclusive invitations to extravagant vacations, lavish parties, and coveted VIP access to sporting events.
Moreover, the association has facilitated encounters for Thomas with prominent figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Ed McMahon, as witnessed during a lavish three-day birthday celebration in Montana for billionaire industrialist Dennis Washington.
However, Thomas’ involvement with the Horatio Alger Association extends beyond luxury trips.
Notably, the contacts he made through this association, including Washington and investor David Sokol, formerly of Berkshire Hathaway, played a role in financing a documentary that portrayed him as a hero following the release of an HBO movie that depicted Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations during his confirmation hearings.
The Sokol family further extended their generosity by hosting the Thomases at their Montana ranch and waterfront estate in Florida.
The New York Times discovered that Thomas had not disclosed many of the benefits and gifts he had received from his wealthy and well-connected allies, and he declined to provide the paper with any clarification regarding this matter. Initially, at the start of his tenure on the Supreme Court, Thomas dutifully reported various personal gifts he received, such as private flights, cigars, and clothing.
However, after The Los Angeles Times scrutinized his disclosures in 2004, Thomas ceased reporting certain gifts and advantages he received to the court.
A recent investigation by ProPublica in 2023 exposed Thomas’ close relationship with Harlan Crow, a GOP megadonor with a disturbing collection of Nazi memorabilia and Hitler paintings.
Crow had treated Thomas to trips on his private jet and yacht, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, and even purchased a residence where Thomas’ mother resided.
Additionally, Crow financed the tuition of Thomas’ nephew, who was under the care of the Thomases.
In response to the revelation of his relationship with Crow, Thomas defended his lack of honesty by claiming that “colleagues and others in the judiciary” had advised him that he did not need to disclose trips of a “personal hospitality” nature from friends.
Thomas’ acceptance of benefits granted him access to exclusive places he might not have otherwise frequented, and he also extended unusual access to the Horatio Alger Association by hosting their induction ceremony for new members in the Supreme Court’s courtroom.
The Times highlights this as an extraordinary privilege granted to an outside group.
The newspaper’s examination of fundraising records revealed that the association uses this unique access to raise money for events and scholarships. In an acknowledgment of the significance of the Horatio Alger Association in his life, Thomas expressed, “The Horatio Alger Association has been a home to Virginia and me.”
Upon receiving the association’s highest honor in 2010, he made these remarks, further stating that the association had enabled him to witness his dreams come true.
If his dreams revolved around undisclosed extravagant vacations and exclusive privileges, then he appears to have achieved them.
The Supreme Court recently updated its disclosure regulations, mandating that justices report private jet travel and complimentary stays at hotels and resorts. However, an exception exists for “personal hospitality,” encompassing food, accommodations, or entertainment unrelated to official business.
As the layers of Clarence Thomas’ connections to wealth and luxury are gradually peeled back, questions arise about the integrity and transparency of one of the nation’s highest judicial authorities.