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Thursday, June 1, 2023



Ginni the Moocher

Ginni the Moocher

Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-hide the gifts from the billionaire on the financial disclosure statements.


In 2009, Ginni Thomas founded Liberty Central, Inc., a political 501(c)(4) non-profit whose broad mission was “to promote education, civil discourse, and activism focused on protecting core founding principles of the United States.” The organization’s seed money was $550,000 donated by the Texas billionaire Harlan Crow, who would become—if he wasn’t already—her close personal friend.

The people who run successful 501(c)(4)s have a knack for raising money. That function is a sizable chunk of the job, because without donations, nothing else is possible. They have to hold fundraisers and galas and fancy events. They have to cultivate relationships with obscenely wealthy individuals. And they have to convert those ultra-high-net-worth individuals into donors. Like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, they have to close.

Ginni Thomas is a natural. She got so good at extracting wealth from the wealthy that she didn’t stop when the whistle blew at five o’clock. She kept the stream of money merrily merrily merrily flowing—enriching both her 501(c)(4) and her own extravagant lifestyle. Harlan Crow didn’t just fund her non-profit. He paid for other stuff, too. As reported by ProPublica, Crow footed the bill for her luxury vacations. He gifted her trips on his private jet and his yacht. He gave her free run of his vacation homes.

To which I say: you go, Ginni! I’m all for women rinsing rich old men. If she can entice him into underwriting her luxury cruises and private jet trips, and he’s willing to fork it over? Hey, they are consenting adults. Let her play at Holly Golightly. Radical wealth redistribution of this magnitude is a strange way for two self-styled anti-Marxists to behave, true. But then, as a former cult member and 2020 Big Lie believer, Ginni Thomas has never been a paragon of critical thinking.

The problem is that Ginni Thomas is married to Clarence Thomas, who is also a beneficiary of Harlan Crow’s largesse. Indeed, as the ProPublica piece makes clear, the husband has gotten way more stuff from Crow than has the wife. As a woman, Ginni Thomas is not allowed at the Bohemian Grove, where Harlan went with Clarence. And she does not appear in that ridiculous oil painting; it’s all dudes.

As Stephanie “LB” Koff remarked on The Five 8 on Friday, Clarence Thomas is a “luxury couch surfer” and a “Sensei-level moocher.” Which would be totally fine, except for the pesky fact that, as one of nine Justices of the Supreme Court, he’s not supposed to accept gifts without disclosing them—especially gifts of this magnitude from grumpy old libertarians who spend vast sums on political activism. When you’re one of the robed few, you’re not supposed to sponge off your rich benefactors like Todd from Bojack Horseman. You’re held, rightly, to a higher standard.

As shocking as the ProPublica reporting is, the truth is that Clarence Thomas has never held himself to that higher standard. From what I can tell, he’s always been more than willing to take whatever any sucker is willing to give him. He Kato Kaelins his way through life.

In The Nine, published in 2007, Jeffrey Toobin reported that

Thomas received even more direct financial benefits from his job. According to the financial disclosure statements the justices are required to submit, Thomas received $42,200 in gifts over a six-year period. This was more than seven times as much as any of his colleagues, whose gifts tended to consist of crystal figurines and plaques. . . . Most of Thomas’s gifts came from conservatives, who had come to admire his work on the bench. For example, Harlan Crow, a Texas businessman, gave Thomas a Bible once owned by Frederick Douglass that was valued at $19,000. (Crow also donated $175,000 for a new Clarence Thomas wing at the local library in Thomas’s hometown of Pin Point, Georgia.) Another executive gave Thomas $5,000 to help pay for his grandnephew’s education. A Nebraska businessman gave Thomas tires worth $1,200.

The tires, one imagines, were for the gleaming black Corvette Thomas used to drive around town, the one with the vanity plates that said “REZ IPSA,” which Toobin explains is “a play on the Latin legal phrase that means ‘The thing speaks for itself.’”

It also speaks for itself that, as ProPublica reported, Harlan Crow bought Clarence Thomas’s mother’s house…and then had it renovated…and then allowed her to live there rent-free, saving her some $155,000 since the deal was consummated in 2014. Crow also bought two vacant lots no one else seemed to want, belonging to the estate of Thomas’s brother. None of this was publicly disclosed.

And speaking of real estate, the Washington Post discovered that Thomas has for years declared income from a defunct real estate company:

Over the last two decades, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has reported on required financial disclosure forms that his family received rental income totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a firm called Ginger, Ltd., Partnership.

But that company — a Nebraska real estate firm launched in the 1980s by his wife and her relatives — has not existed since 2006.

This may be much ado about nothing. The real estate company folded and re-emerged under a new, similar name, which Thomas might not have bothered to change on his tax documents. But, as WaPo diplomatically puts it, “it is among a series of errors and omissions that Thomas has made on required annual financial disclosure forms over the past several decades, a review of those records shows. Together, they have raised questions about how seriously Thomas views his responsibility to accurately report details about his finances to the public.”

In other words, it’s shady af.

And let us not forget that back in January of 2003, Clarence Thomas scored a $1.5 million book deal for his proposed memoir. The winner of the auction was HarperCollins, which just so happens to be owned by Rupert Murdoch. (Full disclosure: my first two novels were published by the same outfit, although I suspect that in my case, Rupie was not involved in the decision to do so; also, my book deals were worth approximately $1.5 million less than Thomas’s.) At the time, Thomas had about 100 pages already written, but the manuscript was not finished until 2007—four full years later, long after he had banked that sweet advance money.

One of the selling points to potential publishers was that Clarence Thomas had powerful friends in the rightwing media who would help him boost sales. As the New York Times reported 20 years ago:

Editors who met with Justice Thomas said he also expected politics to influence the book’s promotion. He told potential publishers that he expected strong support for his book from conservative commentators, and especially from his friend, the radio host Rush Limbaugh. In 1994, Justice Thomas performed Mr. Limbaugh’s third wedding, and he told editors that Mr. Limbaugh planned to read the book aloud over the air, people involved in the meetings recalled.

This runs counter to a claim made by Ginni Thomas in her interview by the January 6th Committee—the same interview where she seemed positively indignant that her enthusiastic flirtations with overthrowing the government were being regarded as anything other than, as she put it, “minimal and mainstream.” In her opening statement, she said:

I work only in the political lane. . . . .

Since my husband became a judge in 1990, my husband has only worked in the legal arena, not politics. I can guarantee that my husband has never spoken to me about pending cases in the Court. It’s an ironclad rule in our house. Additionally, he’s uninterested in politics. . . .

This is, needless to say, pure bullshit. The “political lane” Ginni Thomas occupies is primarily concerned with influencing the “legal lane.” They are not two separate channels, but lanes on the same highway that one can hop back and worth from at will. And most of her husband’s BFFs—Leonard Leo, Harlan Crow, and the late radio host and Clarence Thomas book promoter Rush Limbaugh—are from the “political lane.” But Clarence isn’t interested in politics? Please. Some of us weren’t born yesterday.

She ended her opening statement like this:

Let me also add, it’s laughable for anyone who knows my husband to think I could influence his jurisprudence. The man is independent and stubborn, with strong character traits of independence and integrity.

Sure thing, Ginni. Nothing says integrity like island-hopping on the yacht of the Nazi memorabilia-collecting rightwing billionaire who owns the house your mother lives in rent-free, and then violating the spirit of federal law by not disclosing any of it.

It may be “laughable.” But none of this is funny.

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