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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Another Clarence Thomas Benefactor: Rupert Murdoch

Should we include Rupert Murdoch on the list of Clarence Thomas’s billionaire sugar daddies?
 

By Steve M., Crooks and Liars

Based on the new ProPublica revelations, let’s not omit Rupert Murdoch from the list of Clarence Thomas benefactors.

During his second decade on the court, Thomas’ financial situation appears to have markedly improved. In 2003, he received the first payments of a $1.5 million advance for his memoir, a record-breaking sum for justices at the time.

Who published this book, titled My Grandfather’s Son? It was the book publisher Murdoch owned (and still owns), HarperCollins.

The book was published in 2007. A paperback edition is still in print, and an ebook and audiobook became available in 2021, yet the Daily Beast has noted that Thomas failed to declare any royalties from the book for at least fourteen years. He should have received at least a few small payments in that time — unless Murdoch’s company paid him such a large advance on his per-copy royalties that he’s never received any additional money, which would mean the company overpaid for the book.

… judicial ethics experts tell The Daily Beast that even the most benign and plausible explanation—that the memoir simply hasn’t sold enough copies to “earn out” beyond his huge advance—raises ethics concerns that apply to the justices more broadly.

… The $1.5 million advance on royalties from HarperCollins towered over the previous book deals given to his peers on the bench. It was also the first major personal windfall for Thomas, who The New York Times reported was still one of the poorest justices even after the advance….

Ethics rules require justices to disclose any advances and royalties they receive above $200. Retired Justice Stephen Breyer’s final financial disclosure, covering 2022, includes $2,418.98 in royalty income from Penguin Random House, in addition to royalty income of $150,000 and about $42,000 from other works. On the same form … [Neil] Gorsuch reported … $308.44 in royalties from a 2009 academic work….

Still, Thomas has gone 14 years without reporting any royalties on a memoir that topped the charts….

Yes, My Grandfather’s Son was a #1 New York Times bestseller, so I guess it wasn’t crazy for HarperCollins to publish it, and pay big bucks for it.

Yet the book doesn’t appear to have actually been profitable for Murdoch.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, Thomas had sold more than 242,000 copies of My Grandfather’s Son as of this August. That number bumps up against the magic 250,000 “earning out” mark floated earlier this year by Fix The Court’s Gabe Roth, a judicial reform advocate who has testified as an expert before the House and Senate.

If the book still hasn’t “earned out” sixteen years after its publication date, and twenty years after it was signed up, it might be worth asking the reason for the overpayment to Thomas. If Rupert Murdoch just wanted to do Thomas a solid for services rendered from the bench, he wasn’t the only right-wing billionaire so inclined.

Excerpted with permission from No More Mister Nice Blog.

This post was originally published on this site

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