Billionaires measure what they get in return on their investment by measuring the RETURN ON INVESTMENT or ROI.
So what do you think a billionaire gets in return for lavishing luxury trips on a Supreme Court Justice. Buying real estate from Justices? Luxury motor buses? Investing in their wive’s business? It helps figure out the ROI by following the money.
Dark money donations don’t have to be disclosed thanks to the Supreme Court Citizens United! Justices refuse to recuse themselves from cases in which their decisions may benefit their billionaire benefactors. The ROI for billionaires is great, but what does it mean for hard working Americans who can’t afford to take Supreme Court Justices on luxury vacations? Follow the money with this map to see who the billionaire buyout of the Supreme Court means for you.
The Supreme Court tilted political influence toward wealthy donors and corporations in its 2010 Citizens United decision. The Supreme Court overturned election spending restrictions that date back more than 100 years top rule that corporations and other outside groups can spend unlimited money on elections. It expanded the dark money through shadowy nonprofits that don’t disclose their donors.
“The decision has helped reinforce the growing sense that our democracy primarily serves the interests of the wealthy few, and that democratic participation for the vast majority of citizens is of relatively little value.” – Brennan Center
That decision is mighty convenient for Supreme Court Justices to take luxury trips and accept expensive gifts while ‘accidentally’ forgetting to report them. Thanks to excellent reporting by ProPublica, Politico and the NY Times you can see who have the Justices have been wined and dined by billionaires while deciding on Supreme Court cases that benefit their billionaire buddies.
Supreme Court Justice’s luxury travel
“Thomas has accepted luxury trips virtually every year from the Dallas businessman without disclosing them, documents and interviews show. A public servant who has a salary of $285,000. He flies on Crow’s Bombardier Global 5000 jet. He has gone with Crow to the Bohemian Grove, the exclusive California all-male retreat.
ProPublica reported that during his tenure on the Supreme Court, Thomas has accepted gifts including at least 38 “destination vacations,” 26 private jet flights, VIP sports passes, helicopter flights, private resorts stay and a “standing invitation” for a private golf club—which ProPublica noted was “almost certainly an undercount”—particularly from former Berkshire Hathaway executive David Sokol, late billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga and Apex Oil CEO Paul “Tony” Novelly, none of which were disclosed on Thomas’ federal disclosure forms. – Forbes
Clarence and Virginia Thomas
“Clarence Thomas has come under renewed scrutiny. He has received far more luxury vacations, private jets and other gifts from wealthy friends. This has fueled calls for him to recuse himself from cases or be removed from office and for the court to impose a binding code of ethics.
Harlan Crow – ProPublica first reported Thomas has for years accepted trips from GOP megadonor and developer Harlan Crow, including on his private jet and superyacht, without disclosing them on financial disclosures as federal law requires. Crow also paid two years of tuition for Thomas’ grandnephew Mark Martin, whom the justice has custody of, to attend two private schools in the 2000s, which cost $6,000 per month at one of the schools and were similarly not disclosed—even as Thomas did disclose a tuition payment a different friend made years earlier. Thomas and his family also sold a string of properties in Savannah, Georgia, to Crow in 2014 without disclosing that as required, ProPublica reports—including the home where his mother still lives—which Crow told the publication he purchased so he could eventually build a museum dedicated to the justice.
Horatio Alger Association – ProPublica’s reporting built off a previous New York Times report that Thomas—a longtime member of the Horatio Alger Association, which was created to “dispel the mounting belief … that the American dream was no longer attainable”—has for years accepted gifts from a “[broad] cohort of wealthy and powerful friends” who belong to the group, including people with business before the Supreme Court, receiving such benefits as luxury trips and a Super Bowl ring.” Forbes
Ginni Thomas – Leonard Leo
Leo, a conservative judicial activist who’s spent billions on efforts to reshape the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, told then-conservative pollster Kellyanne Conway to give Ginni Thomas “another $25k” through a nonprofit group he advises—which then filed a brief with the Supreme Court—but conceal that the payment was for her, the Post reports, telling Conway, “No mention of Ginni, of course.”
The Post reported in March that a conservative group Ginni Thomas formed in 2019 had raised nearly $600,000 from anonymous donors funneled through a right-wing think tank that filed an amicus brief at the Supreme Court during the same time, and ethics experts said Clarence Thomas should have recused himself from that case if his wife was paid by the group.
Thomas pushed efforts to overturn the 2020 election results as her husband was hearing cases on it, including sending text messages to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, which fueled calls for Thomas to resign or face impeachment over the perceived conflict of interest. Ginni Thomas has also confirmed she briefly attended the rally on January 6 that preceded the attack on the Capitol building and publicly criticized the House January 6 Committee, and the justice has come under fire for failing to recuse himself in a case concerning former President Donald Trump’s records being turned over to the committee—in which he was the only justice to dissent and believe the records should have been withheld.” – Forbes
TakeAway: Take back the Supreme Court from billionaires so working Americans get fair justice. Vote for Democrats.
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