-by Andrew Reinbach
October 19, 2011- When is official Washington going to do more than talk about Clarence Thomas?
After all the issues raised this year about the Associate Justice–including apparent perjury on his financial disclosure forms, his intriguing connections to the Koch Brothers and to Harlan Crow, and apparent bribery–you'd think the Justice himself would be calling for an official investigation just to clear his name.
But no. Aside some elliptical references to the waters rising around him, Mr. Justice Thomas seems to think silence is his best bet.
We'll see if that's true, because the whole thing is sounding a lot like Bogart's line in The Maltese Falcon after he lists all the reasons he's turning in Brigit O'Shaugnessy: "Maybe some of them aren't important–I won't argue that. But look at the number of them."
On Thursday, for instance, ProtectOurElections.org (POE), a progressive group that's been busily building the case against Mr. Justice Thomas, is releasing a white paper it gave to the FBI in July about why it should investigate Mr. Justice Thomas.
It's a damning case. Aside from his oft-cited alleged perjury on his financial disclosure forms for claiming his wife Ginny made no income for 20 years–she made over $1.6 million–the paper includes specifics about gifts made to him by Dallas real estate developer Harlan Crow, previously raised in a blockbuster New York Times piece–gifts that should have been listed on his financial disclosure forms. For comparison's sake, the paper publishes the financial disclosure forms of Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Ginsberg and Breyer.
Also listed: Financial relationships between Mr. Justice Thomas and Harlan Crow that most people would suspect of being quid pro quo arrangements, if not outright bribes. The fact that the issue can even be raised about a Supreme Court Justice does nothing to enhance Mr. Justice Thomas' reputation. Among the issues raised by the Times: Crow's financing of a pet museum project of Justice Thomas'–the fish factory where his mother worked.
More suspicious are POE's details about donations made by Crow to Mrs. Thomas' organization, Liberty Central, that POE says were basically bribes, connected to the now-infamous Citizens United v. FEC case. That case opened the floodgates for political donations from corporations and other groups–money that's making the 2012 election the most expensive in history.
Without putting too fine a point on it, POE told the FBI that in its opinion, the evidence strongly suggested that a $500,000 donation made by Crow to Liberty Central went almost entirely to Mrs. Thomas, who drew $495,000 in salary over the 36 months following said donation; POE says the entire affair seems to be evidence of a payoff to Mr. Justice Thomas in return for his vote on Citizens–and the timeline seems to support this.
What did the FBI do with the white paper? The Bureau never confirms or denies anything unless it's making an announcement, so the answer is that it's not public knowledge. But the paper joins a growing list of demands for action in the case that may eventually force official Washington's hand.