A photo of Clarence Thomas looking askance superimposed over a picture of an island beach.

Clarence Thomas Has Way More Than Just One Billionaire BFF

It appears Clarence Thomas has quite a few more billionaire BFFs than we were previously aware of. The associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States has received scrutiny in the past over the lavish gifts he accepted from Harlan Crow, the billionaire real estate mogul known for being a megadonor to the Republican Party. News first arose in 2004 that Thomas was accepting tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts, with Crow being his most prominent conservative gift-giving buddy. At the time, Thomas disclosed (at least some of) the gifts he received from Crow in line with the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which requires court justices to disclose any gifts they receive above a certain amount.

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Even though Thomas disclosed the gifts as he should have, he still received scrutiny considering how much more in gifts he accepted compared to his fellow Supreme Court justices at the time. Additionally, it raised the fear of gifts being given for influence rather than a mere friendly favor. After the initial scrutiny in 2004, it has been alleged that Thomas continued receiving luxurious gifts but stopped disclosing them. An extensive report from ProPublica earlier this year claimed that Thomas had been receiving annual luxury trips from Crow for two decades without disclosing them. These trips include cruises on Crow’s superyacht, flights in his private jet, and annual stays at his private resort in the Adirondacks.

While it was shocking enough to learn about Thomas and the gifts he received from his conservative sugar daddy, it is now being reported that Thomas has more than one generous billionaire friend and that the value of the lavish gifts he has received and not disclosed from these billionaires is likely in the millions.

New report offers insight into Thomas’ billionaire-funded lifestyle

For most of us, going on just one average vacation a year sounds like a luxury. Imagine going on 38 luxury vacations over the past two decades, each one costing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 38 vacations allegedly make up just one portion of the gifts Thomas has received over the years, along with countless private jet and helicopter flights and at least a dozen pricey sporting event passes. In addition to Crow, Thomas’ other benefactors include oil baron Paul Novelly, controversial businessman David Sokol, and the late billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga, who founded three Fortune 500 companies. In addition to all being millionaires and billionaires in industries that are heavily impacted by decisions from the Supreme Court, all of these men have ties to the GOP and have disclosed donating millions to the Republican Party.

Sokol has denied that he and Thomas ever discussed “pending court matter,” though he did admit to being close friends with Thomas and hosting the Thomases on vacation. Novelly has not publicly responded to the report on Thomas’ finances nor have Huizenga’s living relatives. None of these billionaires had Supreme Court cases during their friendship with Thomas, and there’s little evidence (beyond basic common sense) that their gifts were intended to influence Thomas’ actions on the court. Additionally, there’s the question of whether some of the gifts might not have necessitated disclosing due to being considered “personal hospitality.” However, there does seem to be substantial evidence that Thomas’ disclosures were misleading and failed to disclose the sources of the gifts he received and gifts that seemed to go far beyond “personal hospitality.”

Additionally, there’s just the sheer absurdity of the situation. Yes, Supreme Court Justices have accepted gifts in the past, but the amount of what Thomas has accepted is (as far as we know) unprecedented. Thomas is living a billionaire lifestyle on a salary of $230,000 as a Justice of the Supreme Court, and one can’t help but feel that it’s misleading. Especially since he has painted a picture of himself as a man doing his job “for the principle,” even though it’s not worth what it pays and the grief it has caused him. News of his over-the-top lifestyle, failure to submit financial disclosures, and chumminess with generous billionaire GOP donors has not gone over well.

The extent of Thomas’ relationships with billionaire benefactors certainly brings his impartiality into question, as well as his legal, moral, and ethical conduct.

(via ProPublica, featured image: Alex Wong/fokkebok/Getty Images/TMS)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.