A New York Times investigation revealed that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was brought access to the wealthy through relationships he built with members of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.
The Times reported that just months after Thomas joined the bench in 1991, he was welcomed into the Horatio Alger Association, a nonprofit scholarship organization, where he forged relationships with a select group of largely wealthy conservatives. This organization granted him access to wealthy friends who gifted Thomas with vacation retreats and V.I.P. tickets to sporting events, as well as invited him to parties, according to The Times.
The Times’s investigation discovered that Thomas received benefits from the members of the association and large donors to conservative causes. Among many of the contacts he made through the group was David Sokol, an investor and former executive at Berkshire Hathaway, who hosted Thomas and his wife Ginny at their ranch in Montana and property in Florida.
The investigation said that Thomas did not disclose many of the gifts and trips over the last two decades reported by the Times. Thomas used to report the personal gifts and travel benefits he received, but the Times reported that after a 2004 investigation by The Los Angeles Times came out about his disclosures, he largely stopped disclosing them.
The Times noted that Sokol, along with other members of the association, also funded the marketing for an HBO film about Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment brought against Thomas. Thomas has also been a speaker at the Horatio Alger Association’s annual inaugural reception and ceremony, which he has hosted at the Supreme Court, according to the investigation.
According to the association’s website, Thomas is an honorary member of the board of directors. The Hill has reached out to the Horatio Alger Association for comment.
The Times noted that Thomas declined to respond to detailed questions.
This reporting comes as Thomas has faced criticism over a ProPublica report that revealed Thomas received multiple luxury trips from GOP megadonor Harlan Crow without reporting them on financial disclosure forms. A separate report by ProPublica later found that Thomas also failed to disclose a real estate deal he made with Crow in 2014.
Thomas previously said he was “advised” that he did not need to disclose the luxury trips because they came from the “personal hospitality” of a “close, personal” friend.
New regulations came out earlier this year that clarified that all federal justices, including the Supreme Court justices, are required to disclose gifts and free stays at commercial properties. However, there is an exception for for food, lodging, or entertainment received as “personal hospitality,” which are certain gifts of a nonbusiness nature.
The Hill has reached out to the Supreme Court for comment.
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