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Brett Kavanaugh

Photo by U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Public domain)

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

By joining his fellow conservatives on the Supreme Court in declining to block one of the country's most restrictive abortion laws, a Texas statute that bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy, Justice Brett Kavanaugh made good on his unspoken pledge to demolish Roe v. Wade. Kavanaugh's actions could change the fabric of this country for decades, and empower radicals within the Republican Party to strip away more rights of Americans.

Against that dystopian backdrop let's not forget two crucial historic facts. Kavanaugh lied his way through his confirmation hearings. Facing multiple and credible allegations of sexual assault, Kavanaugh lied about witnesses; he lied about corroboration; he lied about friendships; he lied about parties. He also lied about an array of other topics, including state drinking ages, vomiting, his yearbook, and his accusers. Kavanaugh lied about his grandfather, federal judges, warrantless wiretaps, and stolen emails.

Second, some deep-pocketed patron, or patrons, over the years have clearly covered Kavanaugh's personal finances. Someone erased all of the many financial pitfalls he faced, including tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, while setting up him for a luxurious lifestyle well beyond what he could afford on the salary of a federal judge. We still don't know which benefactors paid for Kavanaugh's $92,000 country club initiation fee in 2016 for the Chevy Chase Club while he was making $225,000 a year, had two children in private school, and was saddled with the most debt of his life, approximately $100,000.

The staggering country club fee, which Kavanaugh plainly could not cover himself, represented the most egregious hole in Kavanaugh's make-no-sense financial disclosure made during his nomination. For instance, in 2006, he bought a $1.2 million home in a tony suburb of Washington, D.C. and made tens of thousands of dollars of upgrades while earning $175,000 and sitting on a modest savings account.

The disclosures should have been a huge red flag for the press. "The personal finances of Supreme Court nominees regularly come under scrutiny during the congressional vetting process," the Washington Post reported in 2018. And Kavanaugh's finances were by far the most befuddling of any Supreme Court nominee in modern history. But the press mostly yawned through the story.

The Post actually published one of the most detailed examinations of his finances during the time of Kavanaugh's nomination. The report though, raised no serious questions of wrongdoing, and was at times openly sympathetic towards Kavanaugh: "He has in many ways stayed true to his intent, following the Jesuit mantra of service above self instilled in him by the elite Catholic high school he attended in suburban Washington."

The Post piece also made sure only to quote friends of Kavanaugh, as they ran interference for the nominee. ("He's not the type of guy who does things to keep up with the Joneses.") One buddy told the Post that Kavanaugh joined the extravagantly expensive Chevy Chase Club because it was conveniently located near his home. Not a single Democrat or independent financial analyst was quoted questioning the obvious inconsistencies in Kavanaugh's filings.

Why didn't the Beltway press go all Whitewater on Kavanaugh? For years the D.C. media, amplifying GOP attacks, couldn't sleep at night knowing Bill and Hillary Clinton might have made money on a land deal that had crooked local ties. (Fact: They lost money on Whitewater.) Breathlessly covering every hearing, every allegation, every Republican leak, the hyperactive Beltway media treated the story as Watergate-meets-Iran Contra; the very idea that a Democratic politician may have benefited financially from some inside chicanery was presented as one of the most important and compelling news stories of the decade.

Suffice to say that if Bill Clinton had joined an exclusive country club while governor of Arkansas, which he clearly did not pay for, journalists would have camped out on the story for months and excavated it without pause.

A middling jurist who immediately embarrassed himself when nominated by Trump by claiming no president had ever "consulted more widely or talked with more people from more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination," Kavanaugh has always had the earmarks of a willing suck-up; someone who was cultivated and advanced by right-wing forces not for his judicial intellect, but because he's willing to do what he's told. Like help overturn Roe v. Wade.

With so little media attention paid to Kavanaugh's massive expenditures over the years, we still don't have any answers. We don't know if he's operating on the Supreme Court under a constant conflict-of-interest cloud, because we don't know which wealthy forces have aided and abetted his rise.

One possible, unconfirmed explanation for how Kavanaugh's debt magically evaporated, how he bought a house he could not afford, and joined one of the most exclusive and expensive country clubs on the East Coast while living on the salary of a federal employee? Kavanaugh's rich father secretly gifted him lots of money over the years. (Kavanaugh's father drew a large salary working for a cosmetics trade group and walked away with a $13 million payout in 2005.)

Kavanaugh and the White House likely wanted to avoid that Daddy Warbucks storyline during the confirmation hearing though, since the jurist was presented as a hard-working, aw-shucks Everyman who worked his way up to the highest echelons of the American judiciary.

And guess what? As Kavanaugh does his best to outlaw choice, the press has never tried to confirm any key facts surrounding the endless unanswered questions of Kavanaugh's finances and his miracle $92,000 country club fee.

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