September 25, 2023
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas flew on a private jet in 2018 to speak at the annual winter donor summit of the Koch network—a trip that was intended to be a fundraising draw for the influential conservative political organization, according to a report published on Friday, September 22, by ProPublica.
At the summit—held in Palm Springs, California—Thomas attended a private dinner for the Koch network’s donors, ProPublica says. According to the outlet, it was at least the second time Thomas had attended a meeting of the network founded by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch and his brother, David Koch (the latter of whom died in 2019). Thomas did not disclose the 2018 trip, ProPublica reports.
According to a follow-up story by The Washington Post, the revelation adds to the controversies swirling around Thomas and the court more broadly. The issues have led Democrats to call for the nine justices to adopt a binding code of ethics and prompted some calls for Thomas’s resignation.
In its previous reports, ProPublica has explored other aspects of Thomas’s relationships with wealthy conservative donors, some of whom have interests before the court.
Representatives for the Supreme Court and for the Koch network, which is formally known as Stand Together, did not immediately respond to questions and requests for comment from The Washington Post on Friday morning.
In a lengthy statement to ProPublica, an unnamed spokesperson for Stand Together blasted the publication’s investigation as “advocacy journalism intended to discredit and undermine the Supreme Court.” The spokesperson also told ProPublica that Stand Together did not pay for the private jet and that the Supreme Court justice was not present for “fundraising conversations” at the 2018 event.
“There is a long tradition of public officials, including Supreme Court Justices, sharing their experiences, ideas, and judicial philosophy with members of the public at dinners and other events,” the Stand Together spokesperson wrote to ProPublica. “All of the sitting Justices and many who came before them have contributed to the national dialogue in speeches, book tours, and social gatherings. Our events are no different. To claim otherwise is false.”
Research contact: @washingtonpost