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Friend of Justice Clarence Thomas says he never broke ethics rules and has receipts to prove it

A friend of Clarence Thomas says there is well-documented evidence that the Supreme Court justice did not transgress judicial ethics rules by not disclosing vacation trips with his friend Harlan Crow, a billionaire businessman and GOP donor.

A ProPublica investigation published in April found that Thomas’ close friendship with real estate developer Crow allowed him to accompany the Texas billionaire on luxury vacations on his private jet and yacht, as well as free stays on Crow’s vast vacation property, among other perks.

Mark Paoletta, who has vigorously defended Thomas in the weeks after he came under scrutiny from Senate Democrats who said he was in violation of court ethics laws for those trips, said in a series of tweets that Thomas has been in compliance with governing ethics rules and that there is a paper trail to back that up.

“The Judicial Conference is the authoritative body for Judiciary under the law and the Judicial Conference ruling in 2012 concludes Justice Thomas acted properly in not disclosing trips,” Paoletta, an attorney who served in the Trump and George W. Bush administrations and who is a close friend of the Thomas family, stated Wednesday.

“In September 29, 2011 letter signed by Rep. Slaughter and 20 Members to Judicial Conference, Members cited [a New York Times] story that Justice Thomas had violated law by not disclosing his trips on Crow’s plane and boat on his forms,” Paoletta wrote.

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“Judicial Conference wrote back to Congress on October 14, 2011, and said this letter was referred to Judicial Conference Committee on Financial Disclosure for review,” he continued. 

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Paoletta noted that under the Ethics in Government Act, the Judicial Conference is designated as the body to “issue interpretive guidance, review reports, and determine compliance for the judiciary.”

In a subsequent tweet, Paoletta questioned whether the authors of the April Pro Publica article even checked with the Judicial Conference to ask if they ruled on allegations and concluded Thomas acted properly in not disclosing trips, since their documentation is public. 

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