Clarence Thomas head and shoulders in 2021 in front of blue curtain

Apparently, Clarence Thomas’ ‘Man of the People’ RV Was Another Unreported Gift From a Billionaire

Not surprised

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who has come under fire for accepting huge, unreported gifts from Republican donors, is in the news again for more of the exact same.

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It seems Thomas’ RV, which he used to present himself as an all-American folksy kind of road-trippin’ guy, was paid for by, yes, another Republican billionaire buddy, and then appears to have been lied about, according to a report from the Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee. 

Justice Thomas, also known as the court’s far-right Republican billionaires’ sugar baby, has already violated so many ethics rules about unreported gifts that no one will be surprised to learn that in 1999, Justice Thomas’ longtime friend, the healthcare billionaire Anthony Welters, gave him a no-payment down loan in the amount of $267,230 (roughly $493,700 in today’s money) to buy a 40-foot luxury RV. Also surprising no one, he seems to have never paid back that loan in full, or maybe at all, and also seems not to have reported it properly (or ethically). 

The Senate inquiry, along with reporting from the New York Times, found that Welters gave Thomas the loan for the full cost of the RV in 1999, requiring interest-only payments for five years. Then the loan was extended until 2008, when it was simply forgiven. Welters has told the New York Times the loan was “satisfied” but won’t clarify if that means “paid” or “forgiven,” as it appears to investigators. Legally and ethically, for someone in Thomas’s position, loan forgiveness must be reported—and this wasn’t. 

What is surprising, or maybe just funny because now the justice seems almost like a parody of himself, is the many times during interviews Thomas pointed to that RV and his experiences driving it through the “heartland” or the so-called real America and talking to people in Walmart parking lots as a way to make himself seem just like us, so humble and folksy and down to earth. Really, he was driving a luxurious megamobile gift from a billionaire that he was in the process of hiding from the U.S. government. It’s more than failing to report gifts. With the RV, he made himself look seriously disingenuous by presenting himself as one kind of man when the receipts present another altogether. 

Of course, this kind of move shouldn’t surprise us either because, as anyone who remembers what Anita Hill had to say about her time working with him, presenting himself as a decent human being while actually behaving as quite the opposite is a regular part of Justice Clarence’s history.

(featured image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Cammy Pedroja
Author and independent journalist since 2015. Frequent contributor of news and commentary on social justice, politics, culture, and lifestyle to publications including The Mary Sue, Newsweek, Business Insider, Slate, Women, USA Today, and Huffington Post. Lover of forests, poetry, books, champagne, and trashy TV.