In a recent development, Texas billionaire Harlan Crow has refused to comply with Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden’s demand to disclose all gifts given to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Reports from ProPublica and other outlets have previously exposed the luxurious gifts and hospitality Crow has provided to Thomas, including international travel, private school tuition for Thomas’ ward, and the purchase and renovation of a house for Thomas’ mother.
Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, argued that the value of Crow’s gifts over the years required the billionaire Republican donor to report them to the IRS in his annual gift tax returns. However, Crow’s lawyers insist that the Finance Committee has no right to request such information. They claim the inquiry lacks legitimate legislative purpose and is part of a broader campaign against Justice Thomas and Crow. The lawyers also emphasized that the hospitality provided to the Thomases stems from a deep friendship.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has also requested information on Crow’s gifts to Thomas, specifically those exceeding $415, which must be declared according to federal disclosure rules. This recent defiance by Crow’s lawyers may signal their likely response to the Judiciary Committee’s demand.
Despite the refusal, Wyden is considering other options for the inquiry, potentially subpoenaing Crow for records or obtaining them from the IRS. However, complications may arise as Crow obtained a “golden passport” from tax haven St. Kitts and Nevis, making it more challenging for Wyden to access relevant information from the IRS if Crow has been using the tax shelter provided by dual citizenship.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans, who often side with wealthy individuals, have vowed to oppose any efforts by Wyden to acquire the information. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, claims that pursuing the inquiry would undermine the Supreme Court and its individual justices’ independence. However, this raises questions about the “independence” of a justice who has allegedly received significant gifts from a billionaire for decades.
As the saga unfolds, readers of The Young Turks (TYT) will keep a close eye on the controversy and the possible implications for the political landscape.