Megadonor Harlan Crow Ramped Up Political Spending After Meeting Clarence Thomas

Billionaire megadonors Harlan and Kathy Crow have steadily elevated their political spending since they met their “very dear friends,” U.S. Supreme Court docket Justice Clarence Thomas and his spouse, conservative political activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, in 1996.

The Crows have handled the Thomases to personal jet rides and luxurious journey for greater than 20 years, most of which didn’t seem on Thomas’ monetary disclosures, ProPublica reported final week. A number of authorized consultants advised ProPublica reporters that Thomas could have damaged the regulation by not disclosing these items, and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced a listening to on Monday to “safeguard public religion within the judiciary.”

Thomas – appointed to the Supreme Court docket in 1991 by former President George H.W. Bush – defended his actions in a written statement.

“Early in my tenure on the Court docket, I sought steerage from my colleagues and others within the judiciary, and was suggested that this type of private hospitality from shut private associates, who didn’t have enterprise earlier than the Court docket, was not reportable,” Thomas wrote, saying he and his spouse had joined “our dearest associates” on quite a few household holidays over their 25-year friendship.

“These tips are actually being modified, because the committee of the Judicial Convention answerable for monetary disclosure for the whole federal judiciary simply this previous month introduced new steerage. And, it’s, after all, my intent to comply with this steerage sooner or later,” Thomas added.

Crow advised ProPublica in a written statement that he and his spouse “by no means sought to affect Justice Thomas on any authorized or political subject” throughout these “gatherings of associates,” which at instances included conservative authorized activist Leonard Leo.

“I’m unaware of any of our associates ever lobbying or searching for to affect Justice Thomas on any case, and I might by no means invite anybody who I imagine had any intention of doing that,” Crow wrote.

Whereas the Crows preserve they by no means sought to foyer or affect Thomas, the megadonor couple has considerably elevated their political contributions to different officers and teams in latest election cycles. Crow – an actual property mogul who inherited his fortune from his father – and his spouse publicly contributed $14.7 million to state and federal political candidates, committees and events over the previous three many years, not adjusted for inflation.

Of the $10 million the Crows contributed to federal political candidates, committees and events over the previous three many years, greater than $7.6 million has come for the reason that begin of the 2016 election. Greater than $2.6 million of the $4.7 million the couple has contributed to state candidates, events and committees got here within the final decade, though their state-level political giving dipped in the course of the 2022 midterm cycle to its lowest degree since 2000.

The Crows’ political contributions have overwhelmingly gone to assist Republicans. The megadonors have contributed a mixed $245,520 to federal Democratic candidates, committees and events for the reason that 1990 election cycle and $166,000 to state Democrats since 1994, in response to OpenSecrets information.

The National Republican Congressional Committee reported receiving greater than $1.4 million from the Crows since 1990, together with $184,400 in the course of the 2022 election cycle. Congressional Leadership Fund, a hybrid PAC aligned with GOP Home management, has obtained $750,000 from the Crows by the identical interval, together with $250,000 in the course of the 2022 midterms.

The Crows additionally publicly donated to political committees targeted on flipping the U.S. Home from Democratic to Republican management. Harlan Crow contributed $150,000 to Take Back the House 2022, a joint fundraising committee spearheaded by then-Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). After Republicans flipped the Home in 2022, McCarthy gained a contentious battle to grow to be Home Speaker after a historic 15 ballots.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee reported receiving about $1.1 million from the Crows since 1990, not adjusted for inflation. The Senate Leadership Fund, a brilliant PAC aligned with Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), reported receiving $725,000 by the identical interval, together with $350,000 in the course of the 2022 midterms.

The Crows supported Texas Republican social gathering committees on the state and federal degree. Harlan Crow contributed $175,000 to the Republican Party of Texas in October 2022, accounting for three-quarters of the $200,480 he has contributed to the state social gathering committee since 2004. Crow’s contribution was additionally the largest the federal social gathering committee obtained in the course of the 2022 midterm election.

Harlan Crow has additionally contributed to teams that preserve their donors secret, ProPublica reported, making it not possible to know the way a lot and to which “dark money” teams he has contributed.

“I don’t disclose what I’m not required to reveal,” Crow told the New York Times in 2011.

Crow has beforehand donated to the Federalist Society and different teams devoted to pushing the judiciary to the proper, in response to ProPublica. One of many chief architects of the present Republican supermajority within the U.S. Supreme Court docket is Leo, the conservative authorized activist pictured with Thomas on one among his holidays with Crow.

Leo previously led the Federalist Society, dubbed the “de facto selector of Republican Supreme Court docket justices” by Slate. After Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, then-Majority Leader McConnell refused to fill the emptiness till after the 2016 election. Former President Donald Trump appointed three new conservative justices – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – to the courtroom throughout his four-year time period, drawing from an inventory of potential U.S. Supreme Court docket candidates Leo helped compile. These three justices voted with the conservative majority to overturn the federal proper to abortion in June 2022.

Thomas has obtained costly items from Crow, together with a $19,000 Bible that when belonged to Frederick Douglass, ProPublica reported. Whereas Thomas disclosed that present, he didn’t expose a latest portrait of the justice and his spouse. Crow’s basis additionally contributed $105,000 to Thomas’ alma mater, Yale Regulation College, for the “Justice Thomas Portrait Fund,” in response to tax filings analyzed by ProPublica.

“[W]e imagine Justice Thomas to be one of many biggest People of our time, and we imagine it is very important ensure that as many individuals as potential study him, bear in mind him, and perceive the beliefs for which he stands. We’ll proceed to assist tasks that advance this objective,” Crow advised ProPublica in a written statement.

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