Clarence Thomas reported income from defunct real estate company

Supreme Court justice received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Nebraska company dissolved in 2006

Clarence Thomas (Getty Images)
Clarence Thomas (Getty Images)

Questions over the murky personal and professional business dealings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas keep coming.

In addition to receiving undisclosed lavish gifts from Harlan Crow, the son of real estate mogul Harland Crow, and selling a home for $130,000 to Crow, Thomas for years reported receiving  hundreds of thousands of dollars in income from a Nebraska real estate company that was dissolved in 2006, the Washington Post reported.

Specifically, Thomas reported on financial disclosure forms that he received rental income from Ginger, Ltd., Partnership, the outlet reported. But the company ceased to exist 17 years ago and its operations were assumed by Ginger Holdings, LLC, the Post said, citing state records.

But Thomas in the years since has reported receiving $270,000 to $750,000 in income from the defunct company, which was formed in 1982 by Ginni Thomas and members of her family. The firm leased lots in two developments — Ginger Woods and Ginger Cove, the Post reported. 

The Post notes that the most recent revelation may be a simple clerical error. But it does put additional focus on the accuracy, or lack thereof, of Thomas’s financial reporting.

Last week, ProPublica reported that Thomas accepted all-expenses-paid vacations — worth hundreds of thousands of dollars — with Harlan Crow every year for decades. Thomas did not list those trips on financial disclosure forms, which could be in violation of federal law. In addition, Thomas did not disclose that Harlan Crow purchased for $133,363 a Savannah, Georgia, home from Thomas — where Thomas’s mother resides.

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After purchasing the home where Thomas’ mother lived, Crow poured tens of thousands of dollars into renovations, adding a carport and repairing its roof and gates. A Crow Holdings company took over the home’s property tax payments, which Thomas and his wife had been paying. Crow also purchased several neighboring lots, including the house immediately next door, which had been known for hosting noisy parties.

Federal disclosure law requires justices to disclose most real estate sales over $1,000. While Thomas’ financial disclosure that year included a life insurance policy and a medallion he received from Yale, he left the home sale off his annual report. Thomas makes a little over $270,000 annually as a Supreme Court justice.

Thomas said in statements through the years that he was unaware of the disclosure rules or that advice from other justices led him to believe he did not have to disclose certain gifts.

At least some legal experts disagree with Thomas’s assessment, while others are calling for an investigation into Thomas’s finances.

“Any presumption in favor of Thomas’s integrity and commitment to comply with the law is gone” Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics expert at New York University, told the Post. “His assurances and promises cannot be trusted. Is there more? What’s the whole story? The nation needs to know.”

— Ted Glanzer