The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday ramped up its investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' alleged receipt of lavish gifts and trips from Republican mega-donor Harlan Crow by requesting a full list of all gifts and real estate transactions provided to Thomas or any other justices or their family members.
The move comes as Democratic lawmakers are pushing for ethics reforms at the high court amid mounting allegations that Thomas failed to properly disclose trips and gifts paid for by Crow, as well as the sale of his and his relatives' properties to the donor.
"As part of the Senate Judiciary Committee's ongoing efforts to craft legislation strengthening the ethical rules and standards that apply to the Justices of the Supreme Court, we request that you provide the Committee with certain information by May 22, 2023," the letter to Crow, signed by all 11 Democrats on the committee, read.
The Democrats asked Crow to provide an itemized list of gifts worth more than $415 that he gave to Thomas or any other justices or their family members, as well as a full list of real estate transactions, transportation, lodging, and admission to private clubs he might have provided.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., had also sent a letter to Crow last month, asking for a full account of any undisclosed trips, gifts, and payments he had made to Thomas over the years. Wyden's office said on Monday that he had received a letter from an attorney representing Crow, which it described as "obstructive" and "refused to provide answers" to the request.
Thomas has maintained that the trips and gifts he allegedly received from Crow were "personal hospitality from close personal friends" and did not have to be reported in disclosures. He did not respond to ProPublica's detailed questions about the sale of his and his relatives' properties to Crow.
Crow's office, meanwhile, released a statement in response to ProPublica's report, which it did not deny, saying that he and his wife have "long been passionate about giving back to those less fortunate, especially at-risk youth" and they have supported many young Americans through scholarships and other programs at a number of schools, including his alma mater.
Thomas' allies have defended the justice, arguing that the accusations against him are rooted in liberal opposition to his legal opinions. But several Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have called for Thomas to resign from the bench.
The Supreme Court in March tightened some of its rules on what judges and justices need to include in annual financial disclosure statements. The latest moves by the Senate Judiciary Committee suggest that Democrats are looking to further strengthen the ethical standards of the high court.