Justice Clarence Thomas' relationship with his "friend," Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, was documented by ProPublica in April. It included luxury vacations and gifts. What is noteworthy is that Thomas and Crow became "friends" only after Thomas was seated on the Supreme Court. Since April, more corruption has come out, including Crow paying the tuition for Thomas' grandnephew at a pricey private school and Crow buying Thomas' mother a house. Thomas' membership in the Horatio Alger Association put him in contact with many rich people who showered other lavish gifts on him.
But it doesn't stop there. Now a new scoop from The New York Times shows that Thomas owns a luxury R.V. worth over a quarter of a million dollars... financed by somebody else. It is not just any R.V. It is a custom Prevost Marathon, the Rolls-Royce of R.V.s, in the frame of a large bus. Thomas has described it as a "condo on wheels."
Thomas has never made his ownership of the Marathon a secret. He is quite proud of it. The secret part was who paid for it. It is not clear from the reporting how much of the financing was a loan (and what the interest rate was, if any) and how much was an outright gift. The mere fact that Thomas got private financing at least suggests he got a better deal than a bank would have offered. In other words, either some of the loan was forgiven or the interest rate was below the market rate. In Thomas' defense, the loan/gift was from Anthony Welters, a genuine (and Black) friend whom Thomas met long before either one held any high position, and who later became a multimillionaire in the health-care industry. On the other hand, while having dinner at a friend's house doesn't have to be reported on Thomas' disclosure forms, gifts and favorable loans of a quarter of a million dollars certainly do. And this one wasn't.
The more reporters dig, the more dirt they find on Thomas. The picture that is emerging is not a pretty one. It is of a man who grew up in poverty, discovered that being a Black conservative made him a valuable property among right-wing white politicians and millionaires, and has decided that he can now cash in and live the good life on someone else's dime. All he has to do in return is vote with the other conservatives on the Supreme Court. That's not hard to do. If he is in doubt, he can just ask his good friend Sam Alito how to vote. They have voted the same way about 90% of the time in the past 6 years. (V)