Among the people on those planes was Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. According to Pro Publica, the trip raised some eyebrows as far as who paid for it. If the Koch Network had paid for the flight, Justice Thomas would have violated federal laws that mandate reporting of gifts. However, a spokesperson said the Koch Network did not fund the flight, and Justice Thomas did not report it on his financial disclosure form, so it remains unclear who funded the travel.
Thomas is no stranger to Koch events. Interviews showed that he had been a guest at least twice in hopes of encouraging donors to give.
Reportedly, Thomas has a long history with the real estate mogul Harlan Crow and the Koch brothers dating back to years of trips and retreats to Bohemian Grove.
“All of the sitting Justices and many who came before them have contributed to the national dialogue in speeches, book tours, and social gatherings. Our events are no different. To claim otherwise is false,” the spokesperson said.
The Guide to Judiciary Policy states, that judges are urged to not associate with groups that have “publicly identified with controversial legal, social, or political positions.” However, Supreme Court justices make their own judgment calls as far as affiliations.
John E. Jones III, a retired federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush, described Thomas’ actions as a “slow creep toward unethical behavior.”
The Koch network is branded as the most influential political organization and seeks to influence American law. Their network has shoveled out over $65 million in support of republican candidates in the previous election. An upcoming Supreme Court ruling, if passed, will limit federal agencies ability to regulate a plethora of issues such as environment and labor rights.
A former staffer for the Koch Network said Thomas was considered a valuable asset to the organization because he gave donors the opportunity to meet someone of his caliber.
“All the necessary due diligence was performed to ensure the Justice’s attendance at the events was compliant with all ethics requirements,” said Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society leader, who a donor said helped coordinate the events for Thomas in response to the cross-country events he has attended with Justice Thomas.
Crow said he has never heard Thomas him “discuss pending legal matters with anyone,” when asked about trips to the Grove with Thomas.
RELATED CONTENT: Senators Ask Billionaire for List of Gifts to Supreme Court Justice Thomas
Source: Black Enterprise