Yeah, this lede is from Politico’s morning email thingie, and while I am outraged, I’m hardly shocked:
NEW QUESTIONS CLOUD CLARENCE THOMAS — In 2010, the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United dramatically expanded the influence of money in politics. That is little surprise to anyone who’s paid attention these last 13 years.
But in a major investigation out this morning, Heidi Przybyla reveals something genuinely eyebrow-raising: how two conservative activists — Federalist Society leader LEONARD LEO and VIRGINIA THOMAS, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas — worked together to seize the moment and fuel a partisan political movement, with financial support from billionaire HARLAN CROW.
Here are some of the key findings from the piece:
This next paragraph is really the lede: Ginni knew what the upcoming ruling would be and got ahead of it:
— Just weeks ahead of the Citizens United ruling, Ginni Thomas teamed up with Leo to create a nonprofit, Liberty Central, that would benefit from the coming ruling. The organization’s focus was to tear down the Obama administration’s health care agenda.
The early discussions among Leo, Thomas and Crow — who, it was revealed earlier this year, has used his immense wealth to lavish the Thomases with extravagant vacations and other gifts — resulted in a “billion-dollar force that has helped remake the judiciary and overturn longstanding legal precedents on abortion, affirmative action and many other issues.”
— When Ginni Thomas was forced to step aside later in 2010, it was, by all public appearances, the end of their collaboration. But Heidi found that Thomas immediately filed paperwork to form a for-profit consulting business — and Leo’s network reactivated a dormant tax-exempt charitable group, the Judicial Education Project, that went on to pay her an amount similar to what she had earned from Liberty Central.
— Under federal law, groups like the Judicial Education Project are supposed to be primarily charitable in nature. It is unclear what charitable services Thomas, who was attempting to form a political activist group at the time, was qualified to provide and whether she was paid a fair price for her services.
— There are IRS reporting discrepancies in paperwork concerning the group, along with more examples of Leo’s friends who’ve been paid significant amounts of money from tax-exempt nonprofits for services they refuse to disclose when questioned. The group has filed multiple amicus briefs in front of the Supreme Court.
As the cascade of questions about ethics on the Supreme Court continues to fall, you can expect to hear more about this.
You can see how it happened just in this brief summary, and you can guess that it happened again (and again) with other rulings. Someone is not only making bank on it, but they are pushing their agendas through it.
Leo, Thomas, Crow and [Kellyanne Conway] did not respond to questions about their financial relationships, and whether Leo’s groups continued to ask contractors to work with Thomas.
Asked how much money overall Leo has directed to Thomas, when the payments began and if they ever stopped, a Leo spokesman responded: “No comment.”
Thomas’ representative, attorney Mark Paoletta, did not respond to questions.
Republished with permission from Mock Paper Scissors