Harlan Crow’s Lawyer Rebukes Dem Senator For Trying To ‘Tarnish’ Clarence Thomas’ Reputation

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Harlan Crow’s lawyer fired back at Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden Monday night, arguing the senator was attempting to “tarnish” the reputation of Judge Clarence Thomas as part of a “broader campaign” to allege the justice violated ethics rules.

Wyden sent a letter to Crow on April 24 demanding a “full accounting” of Crow’s gifts to Thomas following a ProPublica report on vacations their families took together at Crow’s expense; Thomas previously said he was advised by colleagues that “this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable.” Crow’s lawyer, Michael D. Bopp, responded Monday night, telling Wyden in a letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation that his request raises “serious concerns” about the extent of the committee’s powers.

Bopp argued that Wyden’s letter demonstrated a lack of legislative purpose and a lack of authority, and additionally, argued it violated the separation of powers and misunderstood gift tax laws.

“Given the Letter’s timing and focus, this inquiry appears to be a component of a broader campaign against Justice Thomas and, now, Mr. Crow, rather than an investigation that furthers a valid legislative purpose,” he wrote.

Wyden’s April letter is similar to one sent Monday by Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats, which requests Crow provide an “itemized list of all gifts, payments, and items of value exceeding $415” given to a Supreme Court justice or family member, along with noting any real estate transactions, provisions of transportation or lodging, or admittance granted to a private club.

Wyden said last week he would give Crow until May 8 to respond and would “explore using other tools at the committee’s disposal to obtain this critical information” if he refused. (RELATED: Here Are The Times Liberal Justices Had Political Entanglements That Were Largely Ignored By Democrats)

Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee, along with thirteen other Republican senators, also sent a letter to Wyden Monday night urging him to stop “the unprecedented attacks on the Supreme Court.”

“We reject this manufactured ‘ethics crisis’ at the Supreme Court as a ploy to further Democrats’ efforts to undermine public confidence and change the makeup of the Court,” they wrote. “It is clear to us that Democrats are simply enraged that the Court is no longer acting as a super legislature to implement progressive policies.”

Republicans also fired back at a letter Senate Democrats sent to Democratic Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee late March requesting he withhold $10 million from the Supreme Court’s budget unless it adopts a code of ethics, which they note is “not coincidentally” the same $10 million amount the Court requested for its physical security.

“It is shocking that the Democrats would try to leverage the physical security of Supreme Court justices and their families to force the Court to bend to its demands,” they wrote.

Wyden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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