US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas defended himself Friday over accusations that he accepted years of luxury travel trips from a Republican billionaire, saying that it was “personal hospitality” that did not need to be registered.
Staunch conservative Thomas was a guest of megadonor Harlan Crow for yachting in New Zealand, private jet flights across the globe and regular stays at Crow’s properties in the United States, the ProPublica news outlet reported.
Thomas, 74, the longest-serving justice on the court, went on one trip to Indonesia that would alone have cost $500,000, it calculated.
In a statement, Thomas said that judicial colleagues had previously “advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable.”
The guidelines were currently being changed “and, it is, of course, my intent to follow this guidance in the future,” he added.
ProPublica, citing interviews and photographs and other documents, detailed how Thomas had joined Crow for trips to an exclusive all-male wilderness resort in California and at Crow’s private houses in Texas and New York state over 20 years.
Crow told ProPublica on Thursday that he often hosted “dear friends,” and that the two had never discussed pending cases.
Crow has made more than $10 million in donations to Republican political groups, ProPublica said, including half a million dollars to a conservative lobbying group founded by Thomas’ wife Ginni Thomas.
Ginni Thomas’ involvement in politics has drawn its own scrutiny for reports she took part in Donald Trump-led efforts to illegally overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The ProPublica revelations prompted outrage from some judges and Democrat politicians, while legal reform groups called for fundamental changes in how the Supreme Court is run.