Anti-LGBTQ+ Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ trial of apparent corruption now leads to the Koch network, one of the most powerful and notorious right-wing organizations in the entire country.
On Friday, ProPublica published a bombshell report detailing Thomas’ two known trips to the Koch’s annual donor summit, which is held in Palm Springs. For his visit in January 2018, Thomas flew on a private jet and attended a dinner for the network’s millionaire donors. Staffers say he was invited so donors would be encouraged to keep giving.
“These donors found it fascinating,” said a former staffer. “Donors want to feel special. They want to feel on the inside.”
Founded by libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch, the Koch group has spent hundreds of million dollars promoting conservative causes and right-wing candidates.
The network has brought multiple cases to the Supreme Court over the years, including one next session, which could greatly curtail the power federal agencies have to regulate the environment, labor rights, and consumer protection.
Thomas, who’s switched his position on the issue over the years, seems primed to side with the Koch’s interests.
Two years ago, the network was the plaintiff in a case about nonprofits’ ability to keep their donors secret. He sided with the conservative majority, and the Koch group.
Speaking of secrecy, Thomas has kept his affiliation with the Koch brothers under wraps–along with his other sketchy relationships. The gay-hating justice never reported the 2018 flight to Palm Springs on his financial disclosure form.
The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Task Force, which designed the statue, says it will work on a revised model.
Judges across the political spectrum are appalled at his brazen disregard for the rules.
“I can’t imagine—it takes my breath away, frankly—that he would go to a Koch network event for donors,” said John E. Jones III, a retired federal judge appointed by George W. Bush.
A spokesperson for the Koch network, Stand Together, denies Thomas engaged in any wrongdoing.
“The idea that attending a couple events to promote a book or give dinner remarks, as all the justices do, could somehow be undue influence just doesn’t hold water,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
I for one, have an issue with a privately owned Supreme Court Justice.— Machine Pun Kelly Redux (@backell) September 22, 2023
Thomas is as corrupt as they come. And yet, no one will hold him accountable.— Heather P (she/her) 💙💛 (@aeroladyny) September 22, 2023
Thomas’ troubling relationships with right-wing billionaire moguls have been revealed in a series of exposes over the last several months. He first met the Koch brothers at Bohemian Grove, a secretive all-men’s retreat in Northern California.
There, Thomas stayed in a small camp with the Koch brothers and billionaire Harlan Crow, who’s treated the 75-year-old justice to thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of luxury travel and hospitality. Those gifts include many trips on private jets and super yachts.
Thomas has also sold three properties to Crowe in Savannah, Georgia, one of which houses his 94-year-old mother, who lives rent-free.
It was also revealed that Crow paid for Thomas’ nephew to attend two very expensive private schools during his formative years.
Thomas, of course, reported none of this.
In total, the 75-year-old justice has enjoyed at least 38 vacations, 26 private jet flights, eight flights by helicopter, a dozen VIP passes to sporting events and stays at premium resorts in Florida and Jamaica, according to ProPublica.
Federal judges are advised not to “associate themselves” with any group “publicly identified with controversial legal, social, or political positions.”
But the Koch network is involved in many of the most contentious political issues of our time. Though Charles and David Koch aren’t ardent social conservatives–David, who passed away in 2019, publicly supported same-sex marriage–they’ve propped up some of the most anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in the country, including Mike Pence.
They’ve also funded anti-gay groups.
Thomas, for his part, consistently votes against LGBTQ+ rights and recently called for the Court to reconsider its own ruling on gay marriage.
If any right-wing group were to bring up such a case, it would be fair to question Thomas’ relationship with the plaintiffs. There’s seemingly no end to his shady practices.
Koch network was having a clearance Thomas sale at Bohemian Grove.— Meal (@mealfitforaking) September 22, 2023
Clarence Thomas: corrupt to the core— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) September 22, 2023