Radio: Common Cause Probes Justice Thomas $$$s

By Andrew Kreig / Director's Blog

Should the Justice Department investigate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for failing to disclose his wife’s income, as required of all judges? That’s a question for Common Cause Vice President Mary Boyle, below at right, today on my Washington Update radio show. She will describe during the noon (EST) show her watchdog group’s revelation that Thomas has never complied with legal requirements to reveal his wife’s income. Beyond that, Common Cause seeks a formal investigation of both Thomas and fellow Justice Antonin Scalia for their featured speeches at policy retreats funded by special interests.

Co-host Scott Draughon, founder of the My Technology Lawyer Radio network that distributes the show nationwide, helps lead the discussion. You may hear it nationwide by clicking here and via archive later at the same site. Call in questions via 866-685-7469 or by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In late January, Common Cause announced its findings that Thomas failed to report his wife's income from a conservative think tank on financial disclosure forms for at least five years. Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, earned $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, according to a Common Cause review of the foundation's IRS records first reported by the Los Angeles Times. Thomas failed to note the income in his financial disclosure forms for those years, instead checking a box labeled "none" where "spousal noninvestment income" would be disclosed.

After the scandal broke Thomas submitted forms covering his 20 years of court service. That’s not good enough for some critics. Common Cause has launched a petition drive, for example, saying he and fellow Justice Antonin Scalia should have recused themselves from ruling on game-changing Citizens United case in 2009 that overturned election finance law by creating rights for corporations similar to the freedoms of individuals. Common Cause said the two “have been featured guests at secretive political strategy sessions sponsored by Koch Industries, a multi-billion dollar conglomerate that has invested millions of dollars in political campaigns and causes.  Koch Industries was a major beneficiary of the Citizens United decision, which overturned long-established law to permit corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political advocacy.”

Boyle develops and executes a wide range of communications plans for Common Cause, including free and earned media strategies in support of public education and issue advocacy campaigns. Before joining Common Cause in 2002, she covered politics and public policy for the Denver and Washington bureaus of The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and was a general assignment reporter for The Associated Press in Baltimore and Denver. Details.

As further background, our recent Justice Integrity Project column, "Let's Take a Closer Look at Clarence Thomas," has attracted one of the largest number of readers ever for one of our pieces, illustrating the strength of public interest. Listed below are other recent blogs on the topic in reverse chronological order, as well as our daily collection of columns on other legal reform and related topics concerning politics, security and the media. Links to the full text of the columns are on our subsite "News Reports," which can be accessed via a button at the top of our homepage.

Selected columns and news reports about Clarence Thomas (in reverse chronological order):

Legal Schnauzer, What Do Clarence Thomas and Martha Stewart Have in Common? Roger Shuler, Jan. 27, 2011. Stewart, Jones, Bonds, and Clemens, writes one defense lawyer, essentially got in trouble for proclaiming their innocence. If the feds decide a person is lying about his innocence, that person can wind up in prison. As for Clarence Thomas, he did not proclaim his innocence. He simply, over and over, stated that his wife had no non-investment income--even though she was receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from conservative advocacy groups.

Daily Kos, Thomas Should be Indicted, Alaska Dave, Jan. 27, 2011. It is outrageous that Clarence Thomas can get by year after year denying that his wife was being paid over $100,000/year by the Heritage Foundation and yet an FBI agent who fails to disclose on his Financial Disclosure Report gets indicted.

ABC-News, Ohio Mom Kelley Williams-Bolar Jailed for Sending Kids to Better School District:
Judge Sentenced Mother Convicted of Falsifying Residency Records to 10 Days in Jail
, Andrea Canning and Leezel Tanglao, Jan. 26, 2011.
Kelley Williams-Bolar was convicted of lying about her residency to get her daughters into a better school district. But it wasn't her Akron district of residence, so her children were ineligible to attend school there, even though her father lived within the district's boundaries.

Legal Schnauzer, Will Clarence Thomas get away with a federal crime? Roger Shuler, Jan. 25, 2011. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is amending financial-disclosure forms dating back more than 20 years, in an apparent effort to avoid prosecution for making false statements to the United States government. Hal Neilson, an FBI special agent in Oxford, Mississippi, undoubtedly wishes he had been given such an opportunity. He also probably wishes the mainstream press would try to make the kind of excuses for him that are being made for Clarence Thomas.

New York Times, Thomas Cites Failure to Disclose Wife’s Job, Eric Lichtblau, Jan. 24, 2011. Under pressure from liberal critics, Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court acknowledged in filings released on Monday that he erred by not disclosing his wife’s past employment as required by federal law.

Legal Schnauzer, Did Clarence Thomas Commit a Federal Crime by Hiding Wife's Income? Roger Shuler, Jan. 24, 2011. Does this mean a justice on the nation's highest court has committed a crime? The answer probably is yes. Will the legal system kick into high gear in an effort to protect one of its most exalted members? The answer to that definitely is yes-- in fact, it already seems to be happening.

Protect Our Elections, Protect Our Elections Asks DOJ To Prosecute Justice Thomas For False Statements, Jan. 24, 2011. Today, we asked the Justice Department to bring criminal charges against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for making false statements on his Financial Disclosure forms every year since 2003 by falsely swearing under criminal penalty that his wife Virginia had no income. Justice Thomas signed these forms under oath after certifying that the information in them was true and accurate. Virginia Thomas worked at the Heritage Foundation from 2003 through 2007 and earned at least $120,000 each year according to the foundation’s Form 990s. She is now working for Liberty Central in a paid position according to its CEO Sarah Field.

Los Angeles Times, Clarence Thomas failed to report wife's income, watchdog says, Kim Geiger, Jan. 22, 2011. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to report his wife's income from a conservative think tank on financial disclosure forms for at least five years, the watchdog group Common Cause said Friday.  Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, earned $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, according to a Common Cause review of the foundation's IRS records. Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court financial disclosure forms for those years, instead checking a box labeled "none" where "spousal noninvestment income" would be disclosed.

Selected other news highlights regarding legal reform from Feb. 2 to 3:

Associated Press/Huffington Post, Ken Feinberg, BP Not Independent According To Judge, Harry R. Weber and Brian Skoloff, Feb. 2, 2011. The administrator of the $20 billion compensation fund for Gulf oil spill victims is not independent from BP and must stop telling potential claimants that he is, a federal judge said in a ruling Wednesday that may spur more people to sue rather than settle. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said claims czar Ken Feinberg and any of his agents must change the way they communicate with people seeking money from the fund. The ruling came just hours after Feinberg released details on how final payments would be determined. The ruling cuts at the heart of one of Feinberg's central arguments that because he's independent, thousands of people who have been denied money or received less than they feel they deserve should trust his decisions. And it could prompt more people to sue rather than accept relatively quick settlements with the fund, raising the potential for further uncertainty and liability for BP.

News Media

Russia Today, Washington Post Bleeds Money But For-Profit School Keeps It Afloat, reported by Kristine Frazeo, produced Rosalena Ramirez with interviews with Peter Goodman, etc., Feb. 2, 2011 (video).  See also, "The Washington Post’s Hidden Agenda?" by the Justice Integrity Project.

Huffington Post, WH Reporters Send Terse Letter To Gibbs Over Press Shop's Handling Of Egypt, Sam Stein, Feb. 2, 2011. The White House Correspondents Association, of which The Huffington Post is a member, sent a sharply worded letter to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Wednesday, complaining of limited access to the president and Gibbs himself as chaos in Egypt unfolded. The note includes a formal protest over the press office's decision to keep the president's signing of the START nuclear nonproliferation treaty off-limits to everyone but still photographers. But the main thrust of the critique involves Gibbs's handling of media relations during the past week, when the president has taken no questions and the daily briefings have been either delayed or canceled altogether.

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