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Clarence Thomas omitted three more Harlan Crow trips: Top senator

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (L) and billionaire Harlan Crow.

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has omitted at least three private jet trips gifted by Republican megadonor Harlan Crow from his annual financial disclosures, a top Senate Democrat alleged Thursday.

Those trips included private flights in 2017, 2019 and 2021 that Thomas failed to disclose, according to Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin of Illinois.

Durbin’s office said it obtained documents revealing the trips as a result of the Judiciary panel authorizing a subpoena for Crow in November as part of an ethics probe of the Supreme Court.

Crow’s office told CNBC that it struck an agreement to provide the committee with relevant information stretching back seven years — in exchange for the panel dropping its investigation into the real estate magnate.

“Despite his serious and continued concerns about the legality and necessity of the inquiry, Mr. Crow engaged in good faith negotiations with the Committee from the beginning to resolve the matter,” his office said in a statement.

The documents revealed a private flight in May 5, 2017, taking Thomas from St. Louis, Missouri, to Kalispell, Montana, and a return flight to Dallas, Texas, on May 9, the senator’s office said in a press release.

Crow’s documents also showed round-trip flights from Washington, D.C., to Savannah, Georgia, on March 23, 2019, and to and from D.C. to San Jose, California, on June 29, 2021, Durbin’s office said.

The Senate probe of the Supreme Court “makes it crystal clear that the highest court needs an enforceable code of conduct, because its members continue to choose not to meet the moment,” Durbin said in a statement.

Spokespeople for Thomas and the Supreme Court did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

The Judiciary chairman released the information less than a week after Thomas amended his 2019 financial disclosure report to include trips to Bali, Indonesia, and Monte Rio, California, that he had accepted from Crow that year.

Thomas said in his latest disclosure that those two trips were “inadvertently omitted” at the time.

ProPublica first revealed them last year, reporting in a bombshell investigation that the Bali trip could have exceeded $500,000 if the conservative justice paid for it himself. Thomas’ amendment in last week’s disclosure does not say how much the trips were worth.

Thomas’ attorney Elliot Berke said in August 2023 that the justice had correctly followed judicial guidance that at the time did not require him to disclose transportation.

The new information from Durbin also follows a recent analysis from judicial reform group Fix the Court, which found that Thomas has accepted millions of dollars’ worth of gifts during his more than three-decade tenure on the nation’s highest court.

That figure dwarfs the combined value of all the gifts received by the eight other current justices, Fix the Court’s analysis showed.

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The court in November announced a code of conduct aimed to tamp down any “misunderstanding” that its nine life-appointed members see themselves as unbeholden to ethical rules.

But the document, which has no apparent enforcement measures, has hardly quieted the court’s chorus of mostly Democratic critics. Their gripes have only grown as the court, which bears a 6-3 conservative majority, gears up to deliver key rulings related to former President Donald Trump.

Durbin said Thursday that as long as Chief Justice John Roberts refuses to adopt an enforceable code of conduct, the committee will continue to push for legislation that would saddle the court with new ethical and financial rules.

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