Justice Alito Unloads On ProPublica Report Alleging Conflict Of Interest, Says They ‘Mislead’ Readers

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Font Size:

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito criticized ProPublica’s reporting Tuesday that alleged a conflict of interest from the SCOTUS bench.

In a report published Tuesday, ProPublica suggested that Alito should have recused himself in a case that involved an entity associated with conservative billionaire Paul Singer, and reported that Alito did not disclose gifts on his 2008 Financial Disclose Report. Alito argued in The Wall Street Journal that he only spoke with Singer on a handful of occasions and that their relationship was not significant enough to warrant recusal. (RELATED: ProPublica’s Top Donors Also Bankroll Activist Groups Targeting Justice Clarence Thomas)

“My recollection is that I have spoken to Mr. Singer on no more than a handful of occasions, all of which (with the exception of small talk during a fishing trip 15 years ago) consisted of brief and casual comments at events attended by large groups,” Alito wrote. “On no occasion have we discussed the activities of his businesses, and we have never talked about any case or issue before the Court.”

Alito alleges that he did not know Singer had a vested interest in the outcome of any particular case. He says that his staff checks the names of the parties involved in each case and that Singer was not named in any of the cases listed by ProPublica.

“To ensure that I am not required to recuse, multiple members of my staff carefully check the names of the parties in each case and any other entities listed in the corporate disclosure statement required by our rules,” Alito wrote.

“Mr. Singer was not listed as a party in any of the cases listed by ProPublica. Nor did his name appear in any of the corporate disclosure statements or the certiorari petitions or briefs in opposition to certiorari,” Alito added.

Alito also claimed that accommodations such as “personal hospitality” did not need to be reported. Alito wrote that justices have generally considered accommodation or transportation to fall under the umbrella of “personal hospitality.” Alito said that he attended a fishing trip with Singer that included a pre-arranged flight to Alaska, neither of which warranted listing on the Financial Disclosure Report.

“I stayed for three nights in a modest one-room unit at the King Salmon Lodge, which was a comfortable but rustic facility. As I recall, the meals were homestyle fare. I cannot recall whether the group at the lodge, about 20 people, was served wine, but if there was wine it was certainly not wine that costs $1,000,” Alito wrote of the trip.

“As for the flight, Mr. Singer and others had already made arrangements to fly to Alaska when I was invited shortly before the event, and I was asked whether I would like to fly there in a seat that, as far as I am aware, would have otherwise been vacant,” he added.

ProPublica recently published investigative pieces concerning the relationship between Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and billionaire Harlan Crow. The outlet reported that Thomas spent time on Crowe’s yacht, flew around in his private jet, and vacationed at his private resort. The outlet also ran a story alleging that Crow paid for the private schooling of Thomas’ grandnephew.

Several of ProPublica’s top donors are financing left-wing groups running campaigns against Thomas, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported Tuesday, with some groups pushing for Thomas to be investigated.

“It is no coincidence that several organizations smearing Justice Thomas are funded generously by many of the same donors,” Parker Thayer, an investigative researcher at Capital Research Center, told the DCNF. “The ‘pop-up’ public pressure campaign, where just a few donors pay dozens of ‘grassroots’ activist groups to give the appearance of broad public support for a particular issue, has long been a favored tactic of the Left’s wealthy special interests.”