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The petty crookedness of Clarence Thomas

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Keep in mind because of the combination of his government salary and various jobs — or “jobs” — thrown at his nutcase wife, Thomas’s household income has always been around the 99th percentile in this extremely rich nation, without even taking into account all the nice little extras thrown his way by the man who owns him:

In 2008, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas decided to send his teenage grandnephew to Hidden Lake Academy, a private boarding school in the foothills of northern Georgia. The boy, Mark Martin, was far from home. For the previous decade, he had lived with the justice and his wife in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Thomas had taken legal custody of Martin when he was 6 years old and had recently told an interviewer he was “raising him as a son.”

Tuition at the boarding school ran more than $6,000 a month. But Thomas did not cover the bill. A bank statement for the school from July 2009, buried in unrelated court filings, shows the source of Martin’s tuition payment for that month: the company of billionaire real estate magnate Harlan Crow.

The payments extended beyond that month, according to Christopher Grimwood, a former administrator at the school. Crow paid Martin’s tuition the entire time he was a student there, which was about a year, Grimwood told ProPublica.

“Harlan picked up the tab,” said Grimwood, who got to know Crow and the Thomases and had access to school financial information through his work as an administrator.

Before and after his time at Hidden Lake, Martin attended a second boarding school, Randolph-Macon Academy in Virginia. “Harlan said he was paying for the tuition at Randolph-Macon Academy as well,” Grimwood said, recalling a conversation he had with Crow during a visit to the billionaire’s Adirondacks estate

ProPublica interviewed Martin, his former classmates and former staff at both schools. The exact total Crow paid for Martin’s education over the years remains unclear. If he paid for all four years at the two schools, the price tag could have exceeded $150,000, according to public records of tuition rates at the schools.

Thomas did not report the tuition payments from Crow on his annual financial disclosures. Several years earlier, Thomas disclosed a gift of $5,000 for Martin’s education from another friend. It is not clear why he reported that payment but not Crow’s.

The tuition payments add to the picture of how the Republican megadonor has helped fund the lives of Thomas and his family.

“You can’t be having secret financial arrangements,” said Mark W. Bennett, a retired federal judge appointed by President Bill Clinton. Bennett said he was friendly with Thomas and declined to comment for the record about the specifics of Thomas’ actions. But he said that when he was on the bench, he wouldn’t let his lawyer friends buy him lunch.

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BTW book advances and royalties aren’t covered by the SCOTUS outside income cap rules, and Thomas published a book via HarperCollins at the very same time he was doing whatever he needed to do to get Harlan Crow to pay the equivalent of $75,000 per year (assuming nine month tuition and 2023 dollars) to send his wayward nephew to that nice school in the piney woods of northern Georgia, for which he received a $1.5 million advance. But grifting is as habit forming as cocaine, apparently. (Last year Thomas published an edited — by others — collection of his writings via right wing money laundering operation Regnery Press, for which he no doubt received a generous emolument as well).

. . . This is just about educational opportunities for at-risk youth! Also too, the money for the drugs hookers cars 501(c)(3s) never even hit our bank account, so how can that be wrong?

“Harlan Crow’s tuition payments made directly to these schools on behalf of Justice Thomas’s great nephew did not constitute a reportable gift,” Paoletta wrote in a tweet detailing Crow’s financial support for the family. Paoletta was a lawyer for Thomas’ wife, Ginni, before the Jan. 6 committee last year.

The real estate magnate footed the $6,000-per-month bill for Hidden Lake Academy, a private school in Georgia, for one year, the ProPublica report said, and then paid for tuition at another boarding school in Virginia. It’s unclear how much Crow put down, but if he paid for all four years at the two schools, the bill would be more than $150,000, the report found.

“Let’s be clear about what is supposedly scandalous now: Justice Thomas and his wife devoted twelve years of their lives to taking in and caring for a beloved child — who was not their own — just as Justice Thomas’s grandparents had done for him,” Paoletta said in the statement.

Paoletta called the fresh accusations of wrongdoing by the justice “malicious,” and said that “this story is another attempt to manufacture a scandal about Justice Thomas.”

The ProPublica report included a statement from Crow’s office in response to their questions: “Harlan Crow has long been passionate about the importance of quality education and giving back to those less fortunate, especially at-risk youth,” the statement said. “It’s disappointing that those with partisan political interests would try to turn helping at-risk youth with tuition assistance into something nefarious or political.”

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