Tag: ginni thomas
Ginni And Clarence

How Ginni Thomas And Leonard Leo Used Dark Money To Build The Far Right

Politico’s Heidi Pryzybyla has new reporting that delves deep into the dark money network judicial activist Leonard Leo has constructed, shining a light on the most pernicious corner of it: his collusion with Supreme Court spouse Ginni Thomas.

There’s a lot of meat in this new report, but the timeline Pryzybyla lays out is the most instructive—and damning—evidence of Leo’s scheme to remake the judiciary and overturn long-standing legal precedents on abortion, affirmative action, and many other issues. He shows how he used Thomas as his “in” to the Supreme Court, turning the court into his tool with the billions he has amassed from anonymous donors. It also demonstrates the extent to which the Thomases are funded by the conservative network.

The timeline is critical, opening up potential new avenues of investigation for Congress and law enforcement. In September 2009, the court’s conservative majority decided to expand the scope of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, from determining whether the anti-Hillary Clinton documentary created by the nonprofit Citizens United violated campaign finance laws to whether they should use it to overturn previous decisions approving campaign finance laws. In November 2009, Cleta Mitchell—yes, Big Lie lawyer Cleta Mitchell—filed paperwork with the IRS to create a new nonprofit: Liberty Central Inc.

Liberty Central was the prototype organization created by the eventual Supreme Court decision, which was handed down in January 2010. It declared that corporations and nonprofits can spend unlimited amounts on political campaigns, using unlimited funds from unnamed donors: dark money.

In preparation for that decision, in December 2009 Ginni Thomas filed the paperwork incorporating Liberty Central in Virginia, with Leo as co-director. They had $500,000 in seed money from Harlan Crow, the megadonor who has also provided Clarence and Ginni Thomas with lavish gifts. The group had all the pieces in place to hit the ground running the minute the decision was handed down.

“Ginni really wanted to build an organization and be a movement leader,” one of Politico’s sources said. “Leonard [Leo] was going to be the conduit of that.” But Ginni Thomas proved to be a liability for the group, taking a far too public and political role. It came to a head in October, 2010 when Ginni Thomas made headlines with a telephone call to Anita Hill, demanding that Hill apologize for the sexual harassment allegations she raised against Clarence Thomas during his confirmation.

In November 2010, reports circulated that Ginni Thomas was going to step down from her leadership role, though Leo issued a denial. At the same time, Ginni Thomas sought and received expedited approval for incorporating a consulting business. That business was Liberty Consulting. Simultaneously, Leo reactivated one of his old organizations, the dormant Judicial Education Project. Leo then began using JEP to direct contracts to pay Ginni Thomas an amount similar to what she had earned at Liberty Central, which was as much as $100,000 between June 2011 and June 2012.

Earlier this year, the Washington Postreported that in January 2012, Leo ordered GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway to bill the JEP $25,000 and then use the funds to “give” Ginni Thomas “another $25K,” emphasizing that the paperwork should have “[n]o mention of Ginni, of course.”

Since 2010, the JEP has spent “at least $25 million” on grants and contracts, Politico reports. The full amount, and where and to whom all that money has gone, is unclear. “Leo and Thomas did not respond to questions about when the arrangement to pay Thomas began, if it ended and how much she was paid or what type of work she did,” Politico reports.

Subsidizing the Thomases isn’t all the JEP has done. It is staffed and directed by former Thomas clerks, and since it was reactivated in 2010, it has been one of the forces behind challenges to the Affordable Care Act, voting rights, affirmative action, etc. It files amicus briefs for the challenges that are detailed and extensively researched, in essence doing the conservative justices’ homework for them when constructing their decisions, Przybyla reports.

In 2020 JEP became the 85 fund, with a subgroup, The Honest Elections Project. That organization used Trump’s Big Lie of a “stolen” election to amplify claims of voter fraud and state elections corruption, and to push for more voter suppression.

The story has many, many layers beyond the dark money that seems to fund Thomas' family. It delves into some of the offshoots in Leo’s network and its murky relationship with the Supreme Court beyond Thomas, including Justice Samuel Alito and the deceased Justice Antonin Scalia. All of it, though, coalesces on the corruption of the Supreme Court by Leo and his anonymous millionaires and billionaires. That provides even more fodder for the probes currently being conducted into Supreme Court ethics in the Senate and the D.C. attorney general’s inquiry into Leo’s dark money network.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Clarence Thomas

Billionaire's Weird Group Portrait Shows Who Bought Justice Thomas

The oddest thing to emerge in the whole Thomas-Crow affair—the sugar daddy relationship between Texas billionaire Harlan Crow and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—has to be that painting. You know the one:

Who are those guys, and why is the painting so weirdly realistic and yet idealized at the same time? Let’s start with the easy part: the identification, starting bottom left.

That “some law clerk who doesn’t matter” is indeed a former clerk of Thomas, and he actually matters. He’s Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, now serving as Dean and Herman E. Talmadge Chair of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law. He doesn’t just hang around with his former boss at the venue for this painting—Camp Topridge, the 105-acre compound in the Adirondacks in upstate New York, owned by Crow. He stays in touch regularly by briefs, amicus briefs, and petitions filed at the Supreme Court. Dozens of them over the years.

Of course he’s a “contributor” to the conservative Federalist Society, meaning he has “spoken or otherwise participated in Federalist Society events, publications, or multimedia presentations.” He is, in short, a cog in the conservative legal effort to undermine everything we care about.

Speaking of the Federalist Society, that’s who the next guy is—the actual founder (and former director) of the Federalist Society. Leonard Leo isn’t just the guy who funneled lots of money to SCOTUS spouse Ginni Thomas through Kellyanne Conway, and who “stacked the GOP court,” he is the architect of the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court and the guy responsible for reshaping select federal district and appeals courts since the George W. Bush administration. Basically, Republican presidents don’t nominate judges unless the Federalist Society approves them. Every terrible Supreme Court decision in the last quarter century can be laid at his feet.

Leo’s reach also extends deep into the U.S. Senate, as he needs those people to close the deal on his judges. That includes famed “moderate” Susan Collins, who got a nice financial boost from him during her last reelection campaign, perhaps as a “thank you” for her making Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh a reality. After a humongous dark money deal Leo secured last year—to the tune of $1.6 billion—Leo can buy and sell the entire Republican Party. Having a handful of pet Supreme Court justices at his disposal caps the deal. He doesn’t even hide it.

That next guy, the one sitting beneath that disturbing sculpture, is Mark Paoletta. He is indeed Ginni Thomas’s lawyer, though why he’d be hanging out in this group is a mystery since—as Ginni has vociferously argued—she has absolutely nothing to do with her husband’s work. They never even talk about it at home! That’s “an ironclad rule in our house,” she told the House Select Committee, where she was represented by Paoletta. But it’s all okay because he’s an official “friend of Justice Thomas” according to this tweet he made explaining how it’s okay for a billionaire to pay the private school tuition for his Supreme Court Justice friend’s adopted kid. Enough about him.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is next up, holding court with his acolytes, and pontificating with a cigar. Why he has a cigar prop we do not know. Maybe it makes him more of a regular guy? You know, the kind of guy who totally feels comfortable hanging out with the RV and WalMart crowd.

Those yachting trips all over the world he accepted as a gift from Crow? Pshaw. "I don't have any problem with going to Europe, but I prefer the United States, and I prefer seeing the regular parts of the United States," Thomas said in a 2020 documentary, Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words.

"I prefer the RV parks. I prefer the Walmart parking lots to the beaches and things like that. There's something normal to me about it," Thomas continued, adding, "I come from regular stock, and I prefer that — I prefer being around that."

Wow, Crow could have saved himself a whole lot of money if he’d just given Clarence and Ginni an RV and gas money. Thomas already had a guy in Omaha to hook him up with tires, so it would have been a great deal. (Really. Tires. Clarence Thomas took tires from a guy in Omaha. Who is he?)

We don’t have a full accounting of all the money Crow has sunk into vacations, gifts, real estate deals, tuition assistance, and God knows what else for Thomas, but this timeline of the very long string of Thomas’ ethics problems is a good place to start. And at the heart of it is the guy who commissioned this painting, Thomas’ friend and patron, Harlan Crow. He’s a billionaire real estate magnate who seems to own most of Thomas’ home town (seriously), and he’s a Republican megadonor, and key funder of Tea Party (remember them?) astroturf—he gave Ginni $500,000 to create one of those groups, Liberty Central.

Collecting Supreme Court justices and their spouses isn’t his only hobby. He also collects historical memorabilia, particularly Hitler and Nazi artifacts and memorabilia. Lots of it, from two paintings by Hitler and a signed copy of Mein Kampf, to extremely banal things like linen napkins with embroidered swastikas. There’s something seriously disturbed in a person who wants to replicate the dinner services of the Third Reich. He also has a garden full of statues of despots—Lenin, Stalin, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, and Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito, among others. That’s completely normal, right?

The photo-realtistic painting itself is odd enough that it’s gotten attention on its own. It’s the work of Sharif Tarabay, a Montreal illustrator. Slate was so intrigued by it, they asked an art historian, Heather Diack, associate professor of contemporary art and the history of photography at the University of Miami, what she sees in it. The whole interview is interesting, but this part kind of leaps out:

Some of us here were discussing the painting, and it reminded us of Jon McNaughton’s works. He’s painted countless portraits of Trump, including a version of Mount Rushmore that includes Trump’s face. What do you make of his paintings?It’s hard not to see it as a caricature, even though I realize that this artist is actually quite sincere about his message. It reminded me a lot of socialist realist propaganda paintings under Josef Stalin. It’s painted in a way that is hyperrealist, but also idealist, insofar as the realism they’re trying to portray is really about their ideology. So McNaughton’s ideology, I think, is very clear, him being quite a right-wing conservative. It’s really glaring. If you look back at paintings that were done under Stalin’s regime, they really imitate that style. [...]

I think there’s a conservative penchant towards realist painting. There’s been an aversion to abstract art, and they want to make artwork that they believe is more easily readable. Yet, even though it’s painted in a realist style, that’s not to say the scene pictures or the values conveyed by it are real or the truth. Even though I think that is partly what the artists want to be there.

You know who else had a strong aversion to abstract art, right?

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Kellyanne Conway

Whining Kellyanne Conway Confirms Secret Payments To Ginni Thomas

Kellyanne Conway may have inadvertently confirmed the payments made to Ginni Thomas, the wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

The latest development stems from a report published by The Washington Post on Thursday, May 4, which included details about additional financial contributions that were paid to the justice and his wife.

However, Republican legal activist Leonardo Leo reportedly instructed Conway to make "no mention of Ginni."

According to Mediaite, Conway said:

"This is 2012, according to The Washington Post. Leonard, Leo's quote in that article, I think it's an important quote. He says, I've known the Thomases. They've been my friends since 1990, and I’m very mindful of how vicious and gossipy people can be. So I always try to protect their privacy and their safety. Viciousness from ten years ago, 11 years ago, has turned into violence now, where people are outside of Supreme Court justices' homes trying to assassinate Justice Kavanaugh while his wife and daughters are sleeping in that home. So these people will stop at nothing.

"They want Clarence Thomas to resign. So Joe Biden, of all people, can replace him with one of his own in this case. Ginni Thomas was one of my contractors and she's..She had worked with the Heritage Foundation. She was part of the grassroots — is part of the grassroots. She had worked in the Reagan administration. This is a serious person who for years had worked in public policy and at the polling company. We did public opinion research and data analytics. We had no business before the court."

Conway also made remarks about the Post as she insisted the news outlet had been searching for her.

"I want to look them in the eye and tell them I'm aware that you contacted a lot of my former employees and you, as you suggested to one of them, that you go to her home and look at her old emails," she said. "That is so beyond the pale, but that's who they are.'

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

'I Admit It': Ginni Thomas Pushed Election Lies Without Any 'Specific Evidence'

'I Admit It': Ginni Thomas Pushed Election Lies Without Any 'Specific Evidence'

2022 will be remembered as a year in which the U.S. Supreme Court’s reputation continued to deteriorate, from the wildly unpopular overturning of Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to the revelation that Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, tried to help former President Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election results. The January 6 Select Committee discovered that after now-President Joe Biden won the election, Ginni Thomas urged then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to do everything he could to keep Biden from being inaugurated.

And in March 2022, her series of text exchanges with Meadows became public knowledge thanks to some bombshell reporting in the Washington Post by Robert Costa and Bob Woodward — the veteran journalist/author who is also famous for his bombshell reporting on Watergate with Post colleague Carl Bernstein during the 1970s.

Woodward, like Bernstein and former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, has said more than once that Nixon’s crimes during the 1970s pale in comparison to Trump’s scandals. And more than a few Trump critics have commented that the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the fact that a U.S. Supreme Court justice’s wife wanted presidential election results overturned was more disturbing than Watergate.

Ginni Thomas’ text exchanges with Meadows show her to be an aggressive promoter of the Big Lie, Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud. But according to Richard Hall, a reporter for The Independent, Thomas’ interview by the House Select Committee revealed that her knowledge “wasn’t very deep” when she bought into Trump’s Big Lie. The committee recently released its 845-page final report.

In an article published on December 30, Hall explains, “Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court judge Clarence Thomas, admitted that she was not aware of any specific evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election at the time she personally lobbied senior White House officials to overturn the results. In an interview with the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol, a transcript of which was released on Friday, Ms. Thomas said that she ‘wasn’t very deep’ in her knowledge of specific voter fraud allegations at the time of her lobbying effort, but instead, ‘was basing what I believed off of people I trusted and news that I trusted.’”

That transcript, according to Hall, “provides new detail on how” Ginni Thomas “used her access” to “Donald Trump’s inner circle” to “influence the White House to reject the results of the presidential election.”

Text exchanges with Meadows that were obtained by the committee and reported by Woodward and Costa show the degree to which Ginni Thomas was all in for the Big Lie. In a November 10, 2020 text, for example, Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife told Meadows, “Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!...You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

On September 29, 2022, Ginni Thomas was interviewed by Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a committee member. Raskin tried to determine what motivated her belief in the Big Lie, and she told him, “I can’t say that I was familiar at the time with any specific evidence. I was just hearing it from news reports and friends on the ground, grassroots activists who were inside of various polling places that found things suspicious.”

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming also questioned Ginni Thomas to confirm what she had told Raskin. And she replied, “Right. I know. I wasn’t very deep; I admit it.”

Ginni Thomas has maintained that she doesn’t discuss her work as an activist with Justice Thomas. But Hall reports that the committee asked her “about an exchange with Mr. Meadows in which she appears to suggest that she spoke with her husband, Justice Thomas, about the election.”

In one of her text exchanges with Meadows, she mentioned “a conversation with my best friend.”

Ginni Thomas told the committee, “It looks like it was my husband” but said she had “no memory of the specifics” and went on to say, “My husband often administers spousal support to the wife that's upset. So, I assume that that's what it was…. He had no idea that I was texting Mark Meadows about the election.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.