May 27, 2011- Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) spent his Friday afternoon pestering Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for executing a classic news dump: a release of his financial disclosure filing on the eve of Memorial Day Weekend.
The Congressman spent the day tweeting to his heart's content, first alerting his 43,000-plus followers to the likelihood that someone on the Court was going to try and bury an embarrassing story while the world's attention was turned toward the commute and barbecue ahead:
"Friday dump Scotus style? I'm hearing disclosures released today. #ConflictsAbound," he tweeted.
Shortly thereafter, Weiner let it be known that it was Thomas whose financial disclosure filing he was awaiting. Around 4:30, he had a link to send, showing that Thomas had served on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit Horatio Alger Association and had made $10,000 for a speech at University of Minnesota School of Law.
The real conflict, if there was one, was with his wife Ginni, who earned "Salary and benefits" from Liberty Central and Liberty Consulting — prominent Tea Party Groups. The filing also revealed that the two share several financial investments, including 1/3 interest in rental property in Liberty City, Georgia, and a 401k plan. Thomas went on to note that, "two of the Georgia rental properties have been torn down. The only remaining property is an old house in Liberty County."
All in all, the file told a fairly well traversed story. It's been known for several months now that Thomas's wife — whose employment at Liberty and the Heritage Foundation had not been disclosed on prior documents — presents ethical questions for the cases he chooses to handle as a Supreme Court Justice. " Spouse of #ConflictedClarenceThomas has every right to work for whomever, but he must recuse himself," Weiner tweeted, reiterating his belief that Thomas' should not rule on cases regarding the constitutionality of the health care reform law, due to a potential conflict of interest.
That said, the issue of whether this was some sort of nefarious news dump on the Justice's part isn't as crystal clear as Weiner suggested. The date on the financial disclosure file is May 13, meaning that it's been filed with the Court for several weeks. Who chose to release it on Friday afternoon isn't clear. Politico's Ken Vogel blamed the Court clerk, to which Weiner, ever the cynic, replied: " Without the bosses knowlege [sic] or Ok? Cmon."
The Huffington Post reached out to Weiner's office to ask why he spent his day obsessing over this singular task. They did not immediately return that request. The office did, however, put out a press release stating that the disclosure from Thomas came after "months of pressure" from the Congressman.
“We knew that Justice Thomas’s family had a financial stake in opposing health care reform. Now we know even more,” Weiner said. “It’s pretty clear the Justice has one option here: recusal.”