With surprisingly little coverage from the media, Justice Clarence Thomas has amended his financial disclosure after Common Cause exposed his failure to report his wife’s income for many years — including her payments from conservative organizations.
Thomas corrected financial disclosures for the past 13 years that confirmed the allegations of Common Cause that Virginia Thomas worked for Michigan’s Hillsdale College, the Heritage Foundation and the Republican leadership in the House.
He did not reveal the amount of money that she received from these sources.
As noted earlier, this employment would have been viewed as directly relevant (and controversial) during Thomas’ consideration of the Citizens United case.
For many, the incident will be cited as evidence of how toothless these rules have become. There is little deterrent for a justice who fails to disclose required information for 13 years — including information that would have likely been used as a possible basis for a recusal motion. It takes Common Cause to launch a major campaign to get compliance with the requirements.
What will be fascinating is the next case to come before Thomas of a criminal appeal in a failure to disclose case or tax case. There was nothing particularly complex about this reporting form. While criminal defense attorneys often argue that such omissions do not warrant prosecution, Thomas is viewed as fairly hostile toward such defendants coming before the Court. I was just counsel in the case of a judge who was removed from the bench by the United States Senate on articles of impeachment that included his failure to report income in a bankruptcy filing.
Common Cause notes that Thomas’ explanation that he had a 13-year “misunderstanding of the filing instructions” to be implausible.
Here is the changed form: Thomas- FD amendments
Source: New York Times