Republicans defending Clarence Thomas have gotten nearly $500K from Harlan Crow

Lindsey Graham, the top Senate Judiciary Republican, has gotten tens of thousands of dollars from Harlan Crow

Published May 10, 2023 4:30PM (EDT)

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on Truthout.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have spent recent weeks fiercely defending the deep corruption on the Supreme Court in the wake of major scandals involving several conservative justices, saying that reining in the Court is "unnecessary." A new report finds, however, that these lawmakers may be protecting their own interests as much as they're protecting the Supreme Court.

According to an analysis by Accountable.US, all nine of the Senate Judiciary Republicans have collectively received nearly half a million dollars in donations from conservative megadonor Harlan Crow, the man who recent bombshell reports have uncovered has been bankrolling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for decades.

This includes lawmakers like Sen. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), the top Republican on the committee, who last week said that the committee's hearing on the Thomas revelations and Supreme Court ethics were an effort by Democrats to "delegitimize the Court and cherry pick examples to make a point." Graham got $20,600 from Crow in 2020 alone, the report finds.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who repeated the dubious argument that it would constitute a violation of separation of powers for Congress to implement a binding ethics code for the Supreme Court at the hearing, has gotten $294,800 from Crow over the last two decades via his affiliated PACs and fundraising committees.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, odiously suggested that the hearing was akin to a "lynching" and said that Democrats were simply upset that Thomas has had rich benefactors. Cruz, it turns out, has had the same wealthy benefactor, having received $23,500 from Crow for his Senate and presidential campaigns between 2011 and 2017.

In all, the Senate Judiciary Committee's nine Republicans have received $453,300 from Crow since 2002, Accountable.US found.

"There should be bipartisan outrage about the undisclosed gifts and travel billionaire megadonor Harlan Crow has given Justice Thomas," said Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig in a statement. "Senate Judiciary Republicans should join their Democratic colleagues to act. However, their silence so far may be because they have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Crow as well."

On the other hand, Senate Judiciary Democrats have been seeking to get to the bottom of corruption on the Supreme Court — not only from Thomas, but also from other justices who may be in violation of the Court's non-binding ethics code.

On Monday, the Democrats on the committee sent a letter to Crow and his affiliated companies asking him to provide, within the next two weeks, a full list of the gifts and trips he's given to Thomas over the course of their friendship, as investigative reports have already found multiple instances of large gifts from Crow to Thomas that the justice never disclosed.

"Recent investigative reporting has identified multiple instances in which you or entities you own or control have made payments, purchased real estate, or provided gifts, travel, or other items of value to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and members of his family," the letter read. Lawmakers say the information will help them craft legislation for Supreme Court reform.

None of the Republicans on the committee signed the letter.

By Sharon Zhang

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Clarence Thomas Harlan Crow John Cornyn Lindsey Graham Supreme Court Ted Cruz Truthout