The ethical problems posed by Thomas' involvement in the Citizens United case hardly mark the end of questionable behavior by Thomas and his wife, Ginni.
-By Adele M. Stan
October 30, 2011- When Clarence Thomas took his seat before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, things were not looking good for him. Anita Hill, a former employee of Thomas' at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, came forward with explosive allegations of sexual harassment against the judge, and she was a credible witness. Thomas needed more than a Hail Mary to survive his confirmation hearing; he needed a major assist.
Enter Floyd Brown and L. Brent Bozell, Republican operatives with a history of making brutal media attacks on opponents; Brown was responsible for the racially charged "Willie Horton" ad run during George H.W. Bush's 1988 campaign against former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, in which Dukakis was made to look like a champion of a brutal murderer and rapist.
The two collaborated on the making and distribution of a television ad headlined, "Who Will Judge the Judge?" that targeted three liberal members of the Judiciary Committee whose lives were haunted by prior scandals of their own: Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., Alan Cranston, D-Calif. and Joseph Biden, D-Del. Time magazine estimated that the ad cost $100,000 to air and reaped about $1 million worth of free publicity. Although Biden had a raft of witnesses available who would have corroborated Hill's characterization of Thomas, Biden chose not to call them, as the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin noted this summer in a comprehensive profile of Thomas and his wife, Virginia (Ginni) Lamp Thomas. The organizations sponsoring the ad were Bozell's Conservative Victory Committee, and Brown's group, called Citizens United.
If that name sounds familiar to you, it is because it is the title of a case that came before the U.S. Supreme Court — a case whose outcome is commonly described as having opened the floodgates of corporate money into the nation's election system. Citizens United was the plaintiff, challenging a decision by the Federal Election Commission. Justice Clarence Thomas cast his vote for Citizens United, truly a deciding vote in that 5-4 decision.