Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, one of the most vocal critics of Justice Clarence Thomas’ friendship with billionaire real estate developer Harlan Crow, received campaign money from Crow’s brother, records show.
Whitehouse, along with Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson, sent a letter to Chief Justice Roberts April 7 requesting he open an investigation into Thomas over expense-paid trips he received from long-time friend Harlan Crow but did not disclose. The senator, however, is connected to Harlan Crow’s brother, Trammell Crow, who donated to Whitehouse’ campaign and runs a prominent green group Whitehouse supports. (RELATED: Legal Experts Call Attacks On Clarence Thomas ‘Ridiculous,’ Slam Media Reports As ‘Incomplete’)
“Whitehouse criticizes dark money in politics but is a leading recipient of dark money,” Mike Davis, Article III Project Founder and President, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Whitehouse criticizes the powerful for having relationships with the rich, yet he accepts financial support from billionaires. Whitehouse criticizes conflicts of interest but actively works to legislate in support of his spouse’s profession. He’s the ultimate hypocrite, and the worst part is how shamelessly he conducts himself.”
Trammell Crow donated $10,400 to Whitehouse’s Senate campaigns in 2021 and 2017, campaign finance records show. Additionally, Whitehouse has ties to a nonprofit group Trammell founded in 2011, Earth Day Texas (EDTx), which hosts a free three-day event in April — by its own account one of the world’s largest environmental awareness events — that Trammell also funds.
After being seated on the Court, Justice Thomas made a friend who donated huge sums of money to his spouse’s activist group, renovated a home for his mother to live in rent-free, and funded lavish, undisclosed vacations.
You know, as friends do. pic.twitter.com/dBN3vfb8Pc
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) April 20, 2023
He also thanked Trammell Crow for his efforts during remarks on the Senate floor in 2017.
“I went to Earth Day Texas, a truly impressive event, with 150,000 people, making it the largest Earth Day event in the world,” he said. “It is the passion of businessman and philanthropist Trammell Crow, who has been bringing Republicans and Democrats together to combat climate change since 2011.”
Whitehouse reintroduced the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act in February that would “require the Supreme Court to adopt disclosure rules for gifts, travel, and income that are at least as rigorous as ethics rules for members of Congress.”
“We need a hearing and a vote on my SCERT Act to clean up this mess and to wall the justices off from the billionaires who are apparently swarming around the bench,” he said in an April 6 statement.
Thomas said in response to the report on his trips with Harlan Crow that colleagues he sought guidance from early on told him “personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable.” Further, he is not the only justice to amend a report; Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson noted in her nominee disclosure that she previously had “inadvertently omitted” consulting income her spouse “periodically receives from consulting on medical malpractice cases,” which legal experts previously told the DCNF shows there is “double standard toward conservatives.”
Whitehouse and Trammell Crow did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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