Attorney friend of Justice Thomas provides evidence of no ethical wrongdoing in response to media smears

May 30, 2023
Ben Marquis

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been recently subjected to a coordinated effort by media activists and Democrats to smear him with allegations of blatant and repeated violations of judicial ethics guidelines and standards in failing to properly disclose "gifts" received from a wealthy friend.

Thomas has denied any wrongdoing, and now one of his personal friends has provided documentary evidence that the justice had already been cleared of virtually the same allegations more than a decade ago, the Conservative Brief reported.

That friend is Washington D.C. attorney Mark Paoletta, who previously served in the Trump and Bush administrations, and who posted a thread of tweets in which he shared copies of public letters from the Judicial Conference that proved that the same allegations had been reviewed and dismissed more than 10 years ago.

The coordinated smear of Justice Thomas

In early April, left-leaning ProPublica published a lengthy article that purported to expose numerous incidents over the years in which Justice Thomas had accepted rides on the private jet and yacht of a personal friend, Texas real estate billionaire Harlan Crow, and had been a complimentary guest at several different properties owned by Crow -- none of which was reported in financial disclosure forms.

What followed was a series of similar articles and claims of ethics violations from other media outlets, partisan activists, and elected Democrats, who all leveled accusations of unethical behavior against Thomas and demanded his resignation or threatened potential impeachment and removal from the court.

Except, according to Fox News, none of the supposed ethics violations or disclosure failures are true, and Paoletta had the documented evidence to prove that no wrongdoing had occurred.

Judicial Conference already dealt with this issue and dismissed it

In a multi-tweet thread last week, Paoletta wrote, "Justice Thomas complied with ethics law when he didn’t disclose trips under personal hospitality exception. In 2011/12, Judicial Conference specifically reviewed complaints Thomas hadn’t properly disclosed trips and concluded Thomas acted properly in not disclosing."

"After complaints filed in Jan 2011 on Thomas not disclosing wife’s salary, which was inadvertent, there were complaints submitted based on June 2011 NYT story on Thomas traveling on Harlan Crow plane & boat & staying at Crow's summer home, Topridge," he continued. "In September 29, 2011 letter signed by Rep. Slaughter and 20 Members to Judicial Conference, Members cited @nytimes story that Justice Thomas had violated law by not disclosing his trips on Crow’s plane and boat on his forms."

"Judicial Conference wrote back to Congress on October 14, 2011, and said this letter was referred to Judicial Conference Committee on Financial Disclosure for review," the attorney wrote. "On 4/30/12, Jud Conf replied to congress that they reviewed allegations in 9/29 letter & 'concluded that nothing has been presented to support a determination that Justice Thomas ... willfully or improperly failed to disclose information concerning travel reimbursements.'"

"Thus, Judicial Conference specifically reviewed allegations in 2011/12 that Justice Thomas had violated law by not disclosing his trips on Crow’s plane and boat pursuant to personal hospitality exception and Judicial Conference AGREED Thomas was correct in not disclosing," Paoletta added.

The D.C. attorney wasn't done yet, though, as he kept going in his thread with even more recent documentary evidence from this month, as he tweeted, "This is set forth in Judicial Conference 5/15/2023 letter to [Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)], which summarized findings that 'nothing had been presented to support a determination that … Justice Thomas willfully or improperly failed to disclose information concerning travel reimbursements.'"

Paoletta noted in two separate tweets in the thread that "Under Ethics in Government Act, the Judicial Conference is designated as the body to issue interpretive guidance, review reports, and determine compliance for the judiciary," as well as that the "Judicial Conference is the authoritative body for Judiciary under the law and the Judicial Conference ruling in 2012 concludes Justice Thomas acted properly in not disclosing trips."

Journalists obviously failed to do basic due diligence on claims

The attorney also specifically called out the editor and reporters for the ProPublica story and wrote, "2011 letters to Judicial Conference alleging Thomas violated law by not disclosing trips were public. Did you check with Judicial Conference to ask if they ruled on allegations & concluded Thomas acted properly in not disclosing trips?"

"You cite left wing 'ethics experts,' whose views are just partisan opinions, but I don’t see anything in your original article that you checked with Judicial Conference," Paoletta damningly concluded.

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