ProPublica Raises More Questions About Thomas

Justice attended at least two donor events for the Koch brothers' conservative political network
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2023 1:00 PM CDT
ProPublica Raises Questions About Thomas' Ties to Kochs
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

ProPublica is out with another investigative piece that questions the ties of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to wealthy conservative donors. In this one, the outlet reports that Thomas attended at least two fundraising events over the years for the influential Koch brothers, Charles and David. (The latter died in 2019.) The trips were not disclosed. Thomas gave speeches at the events, with the Kochs hoping that such close access to a powerful figure would encourage people to donate more, according to the story.

  • ProPublica: "That puts Thomas in the extraordinary position of having served as a fundraising draw for a network that has brought cases before the Supreme Court, including one of the most closely watched of the upcoming term," per the story. (The upcoming case involves a 1984 legal precedent known as the Chevron deference, which revolves around government agencies' ability to issue regulations.)

  • In defense: Thomas did not comment on the story. But a spokesperson for the Koch network, Stand Together, maintained that "Thomas wasn't present for fundraising conversations." In a statement, the spokesperson added that "the idea that attending a couple events to promote a book or give dinner remarks, as all the justices do, could somehow be undue influence just doesn't hold water."
  • Another judge's view: "I can't imagine—it takes my breath away, frankly—that he would go to a Koch network event for donors," John E. Jones III, a retired federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush, tells the outlet. Jones added that if he had done what Thomas did as a district court judge, "I'd have gotten a letter that would've commenced a disciplinary proceeding." The Supreme Court, on the other hand, largely polices itself.
Read the full story. (Thomas has previously criticized this types of stories as politically biased.)

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