Last month, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took some heat when it was discovered that he had not disclosed — as required by federal law — income-producing jobs held by his wife Virginia dating back 20 years. From 1998-2003, for example, Mrs. Thomas had worked at the conservative Heritage Foundation, which paid her a total of $686,589. But the job was never disclosed on federal documents.
It wasn’t merely a passive oversight. Each year, when filling out the form asking for disclosure of “spousal noninvestment income,” Thomas had checked a box labeled “none.” He had also failed to disclose paid work done by his wife back in the ’90s for then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey, now a Tea Party leader.
Since then, new questions have popped up regarding Thomas’ attendance three years ago at a seminar of conservative leaders sponsored by David and Charles Koch. In one invitation to such retreats, which typically run four days, Charles Koch wrote that “twice a year our network meets to review strategies for combating the multitude of public policies that threaten to destroy America as we know it.”
When questions were raised last month about Thomas’ attendance at the January 2008 retreat, a Supreme Court spokesman said “it was a brief drop-by. He was not a participant.”
“In his financial disclosure report for that year, however, Justice Thomas reported that the Federalist Society, a prominent conservative legal group, had reimbursed him an undisclosed amount for four days of “transportation, meals and accommodations” over the weekend of the retreat….
Arn Pearson, a vice president at the advocacy group Common Cause, said the two statements appeared at odds. His group sent a letter to the Supreme Court on Monday asking for “further clarification” as to whether the justice spent four days at the retreat for the entire event or was there only briefly.
“I don’t think the explanation they’ve given is credible,” Mr. Pearson said in an interview. He said that if Justice Thomas’s visit was a “four-day, all-expenses paid trip in sunny Palm Springs,” it should have been reported as a gift under federal law.”
Hmmm. “A brief (four-day) drop-by”? On whose dime?
Imagine, if you will, the reaction of conservatives if Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had failed to disclose her late husband’s employment at MoveOn.org, had attended and spoken at private affairs sponsored by George Soros, and had apparently been less than honest with the American people about what had taken place. The impeachment hearings in the House would be starting any day now.
– Jay Bookman