Billionaire Harlan Crow Also Bankrolled GOP Lawmakers Blocking SCOTUS Ethics Reform - Common Dreams

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday sent a letter asking Harlan Crow—the billionaire GOP megadonor who has secretly showered U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts since the mid-1990s—to provide a full accounting of his financial ties to Thomas and any other judges on the high court.

Last month, one day after ProPublica published its bombshell report on Crow’s under-the-table funding of near-annual luxury vacations for Thomas—the first of what would become many revelations about the two men’s financial relationship—Accountable.US calculated that the current Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee received $453,300 from Crow between 2001 and 2022. The group revised that figure up to $457,000 on Tuesday in light of a $3,700 donation Crow made to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) earlier this year.

The following is a list of Crow’s total contributions to the nine GOP lawmakers on the panel as well as their affiliated PACs and joint fundraising committees, in descending order:

  • [Sen. John] Cornyn [(Texas)]: $294,800
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa): $46,600
  • Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.): $23,900
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas): $23,500
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.): $20,600
  • Sen. Mike Lee (Utah): $19,500
  • Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.): $13,400
  • Sen. John Kennedy (La.): $8,300
  • Sen. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.): $6,400

Not only have Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee with apparent conflicts of interest refused to join their Democratic colleagues in trying to establish enforceable ethics rules for the Supreme Court, but they have attempted to downplay the seriousness of the court’s growing crisis of legitimacy.

Moreover, as Common Dreams reported last week, an Americans for Tax Fairness analysis of campaign finance data shows that after Thomas provided a deciding vote in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, the Crow family’s average annual campaign contributions soared by 862%, from $163,241 before 2010 to $1.57 million since.

This massive increase, which is partly reflected in Crow’s donations to Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, underscores how the 5-4 ruling that effectively legalized unlimited political spending has strengthened the wealthy’s ability to shape electoral outcomes, further undermining U.S. democracy.

Polling data shows that public approval of the nation’s chief judicial body has decreased sharply in the months since its reactionary supermajority eliminated the constitutional right to abortion care, among other harmful and unpopular decisions. According to a survey conducted last month, nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults no longer have confidence in the high court.

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Common Dreams

Organizations: Supreme Court Senate Judiciary Committee Accountable.US 

People: Harlan Crow John Cornyn Chuck Grassley Tom Cotton Lindsey Graham Mike Lee Thom Tillis John Kennedy Marsha Blackburn 

Tags: Judicial Ethics 

Type: Headlines