He also pointed to recent changes that tightened the regulations governing judges’ annual financial disclosures. “It is, of course, my intent to follow this guidance in the future.”
The new regulations, quietly put into place March 14 by a Judicial Conference committee, now require Supreme Court justices and all federal judges to disclose complimentary trips, plane rides and other gifts they receive. They must report their stays at commercial property, such as hotels, and their travel using private planes. Lodging or entertainment at a friend’s private residence are still exempt from the new guidelines.
Lawmakers expressed outrage at Thomas’ failure to report the gifted trips, which could potentially violate ethics laws. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called for Thomas’s impeachment. “This is beyond party or partisanship. This degree of corruption is shocking — almost cartoonish,” she wrote.
House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) urged Republicans to pass a bill Democrats introduced last Congress that would require the establishment of a judicial code of conduct for judges and justices of U.S. courts.
“Why did Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas keep these ultra luxury gifts from a GOP donor secret? Because Justice Thomas knew it was wrong to accept these secret gifts,” Lieu wrote on Twitter.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) called for an “independent investigation,” stating that “it’s the Chief Justice’s job to make sure that occurs.”
The ProPublica report detailed two decades of Thomas’ travel on a private jet and yacht owned by Crow to luxury destinations such as the California resort Bohemian Grove, Crow’s ranch in Texas, Crow’s private lakeside resort in the Adirondacks and a vacation in Indonesia.