Justice Thomas Long Ago Explained His Perspective On Disclosure Laws
Another day, another report on Justice Thomas. Today, ProPublica revealed that Harlan Crow paid the private-school tuition of Mark Martin, Justice Thomas’s grand-nephew. And Thomas failed to disclose those payments. 5 U.S.C. § 13101(2) only requires disclosures for a gift to a “son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter.” Justice Thomas was not required to disclose any gifts concerning his grand nephew–even assuming the payments were gifts. ProPublica acknowledges this statute halfway through the story:
Justices also must report many gifts to their spouses and dependent children. The law’s definition of dependent child is narrow, however, and likely would not apply to Martin since Thomas was his legal guardian, not his parent. The best case for not disclosing Crow’s tuition payments would be to argue the gifts were to Martin, not Thomas, experts said.
But then ProPublica turns to the regular stable of experts. They say that in fact, these tuition payments were actually gifts to Thomas personally, which he had to disclose. And even if Thomas followed the statute, and was not required to disclose the payments, more disclosure is better.
Mark Paoletta, a close confidant of the Thomases, provides the background of the tuition payments:
Harlan Crow’s tuition payments made directly to these schools on behalf of Justice Thomas’s great nephew did not constitute a reportable g
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