The Supreme Court is facing an ethical crisis in the wake of revelations that Justice Clarence Thomas took free, lavish vacations from a billionaire.
Thomas says that disclosure rules do not require him to report the trips. News subsequently broke that his patron, Harlan Crow, purchased a house from Thomas, whose mother still lives there. Crow also had business before the court that Thomas didn’t recuse himself from.
While numerous people are outraged about the conflict of interest and the Supreme Court potentially being compromised by wealth and influence, one man is brave enough to defend Thomas.
“Justice Thomas Acted Properly and Was Not Required to Disclose His Trips,” Mark Paoletta tweeted on Thursday, along with a link to his piece in the National Review with the same title.
In the article, Paoletta writes that “journalists and ‘judicial ethics’ experts have portrayed [Thomas] as violating the law for not listing trips on his financial disclosure, including flights on private jets and vacation stays at the home of his longtime friend Harlan Crow. But this portrayal is wrong. Justice Thomas did not have to disclose such trips.”
Paoletta’s point is clear: Justice Thomas did nothing wrong.
Speaking of needing to disclose things, later in the piece Paoletta noted that he and Thomas are longtime pals and professional associates.
“Full disclosure: I worked on Justice Thomas’s confirmation as a lawyer in [the] White House in 1991, have co-edited a book on him titled Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words, and remain close friends with him. I have also represented Ginni Thomas in the January 6 Committee inquiry,” Paoletta wrote.
There is another thing that Paoletta should have probably disclosed, but didn’t. Twitter took care of it for him.
ProPublica’s piece about Thomas traveling on the billionaire’s dime included a photorealistic painting from a trip to Crow’s Adirondack camp. The painting shows a group including Thomas, Crow, and several others.
One of those people is Paoletta.
It didn’t take Twitter long to unearth the painting.
“BREAKING: Dude on trips says trips okay,” one user wrote.
According to ProPublica, Paoletta also traveled with Crow and Thomas to Indonesia. ProPublica obtained a photo of Paoletta on that vacation. Paoletta was working at the White House at the time. He told the outlet that he reimbursed Crow for the trip.
Paoletta did not respond to a request for comment about why he didn’t disclose that he was with Crow and Thomas on at least two of the trips.