Huffington Post: Democrats Ramp Up Calls For Ethics Probe Of Clarence Thomas

-by Jennifer Bendery

October 5, 2011- House Democrats are ratcheting up the pressure for a formal investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for failing to disclose information relating to his wife's earnings — as much as $1.6 million over the past 13 years — on his annual financial disclosure forms.

House Rules Committee ranking member Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) on Wednesday sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee calling for hearings "on the pattern of potential ethical lapses" by Thomas, who, after years of filing his financial forms properly, stopped disclosing his wife Ginny's employment status every year between 1997 and 2011. During that time, the letter states, his wife made at least $1.6 million, based on reports from outside groups.

"Public records clearly demonstrate that Justice Thomas has failed to accurately disclose information concerning the income and employment status of his wife, as required by law," reads the letter to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.). "In addition, news reports indicate that Justice Thomas may have also failed to report gifts from wealthy supporters and inappropriately solicited donations for favored non-profit organizations."

The Huffington Post later caught up with Conyers and asked if he supported the idea of holding hearings to examine Thomas' disclosure practices. "I'm open to that," he said.

Thomas' disclosure errors first came to light in January, when he sent a packet of letters to the Committee on Financial Disclosures requesting amendments to his disclosure forms for the past 21 years. He wrote that he "inadvertently" left out information about his wife's employment during those years "due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions."

In his letters, Thomas lists all of his wife's former employers and the years that she worked for each one. Most notably, her past employers included The Heritage Foundation, where she made hundreds of thousands of dollars between 2003 to 2007 alone. Democrats have noted that The Heritage Foundation was a major opponent of the Affordable Care Act, an issue the Supreme Court is expected to rule on by next summer, and have suggested Thomas may need to recuse himself from related cases that come before the court given his wife's activities.

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