US Supreme Court’s Clarence Thomas defends lavish travel as ‘personal hospitality’

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US Supreme Court’s Clarence Thomas defends lavish travel as ‘personal hospitality’

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US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday defended himself against accusations that he accepted years of luxury travel from a Republican billionaire, saying it was “personal hospitality” that should not be recorded.

The staunch conservative Thomas has been a guest of megadonor Harlan Crowe on yachting trips to New Zealand, private jet flights around the world and regular stays at Crowe properties in the United States, news outlet ProPublica reported.

Thomas, 74, the court’s longest-serving justice, went on a trip to Indonesia that alone would have cost $500,000, it estimated.

In a statement, Thomas said the judge’s colleagues had previously “advised that this type of personal hospitality by close personal friends who had no business before the Court was not reportable.”

The guidelines are currently changing “and, of course, it is my intention to follow these guidelines in the future,” he added.

ProPublica, citing interviews, photographs and other documents, detailed how Thomas joined Crowe on trips to an exclusive all-male desert resort in California and to Crowe’s private homes in Texas and New York state for 20 years.

Crowe told ProPublica on Thursday that he often hosted “dear friends” and that the two never discussed pending cases.

Crowe 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, Ginny Thomas.

Ginny Thomas’ involvement in politics has drawn its own attention because of reports that she was involved in a Donald Trump-led effort to illegally overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

ProPublica’s revelations have sparked outrage from some Democratic judges and politicians, while legal reform groups have called for fundamental changes in how the Supreme Court is run.

(AFP)

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