Wednesday, June 8, 2011

While You Were Sleeping …

… Or buying into the latest Andrew Breitbart non-scandal, this happened.

From Mother Jones on May 31, 2011:

Following a time-honored Washington tradition of dumping required but embarrassing information on a Friday night before a major holiday, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas finally released the details of his wife’s income from her year or so working for the tea party group Liberty Central, which fought President Obama’s health care reform law. His new financial disclosure form indicates that his wife, Virginia, who served as Liberty Central’s president and CEO, received $150,000 in salary from the group and less than $15,000 in payments from an anti-health care lobbying firm she started.

The Mother Jones article points out – correctly, I think – that last month’s eleventh-hour financial disclosures strongly suggest that Justice Thomas should be conflicted out of hearing any case challenging the legality or constitutionality of the Affordable Healthcare Act, given Ginni Thomas’ direct involvement in battling the passage of that bill. But there’s more to it than that.

In fact, Justice Thomas is the subject of two separate ethics complaints filed by an organization called Protect Our Elections – complaints appear to be quite serious. According to the group’s February 8, 2011, press release:

February 8, 2011- Today, attorney Kevin Zeese filed two formal complaints against Justice Clarence Thomas for falsifying 20 years of financial disclosure statements and benefitting financially from his decisions. The first complaint, filed with the Washington D.C. Bar Disciplinary Committee, seeks Justice Thomas’ disbarment.

“Justice Thomas violated the Rules of Professional Conduct: he committed crimes that carry serious jail time if prosecuted, he acted in a untrustworthy manner, his conduct involved dishonesty, deceit and misrepresentation, and he engaged in conduct that seriously interfered with the administration of justice.”

The second complaint, filed with the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, seeks criminal prosecution.

“Justice Thomas committed at least 20 crimes by falsifying 20 financial disclosure forms in order hide his wife’s employers and to enrich himself and his family. The crimes he committed carry serious jail time if prosecuted, and those and similar false statement crimes have been prosecuted against many others in the past without allowance for immunity by amendment. Justice Thomas acted in an untrustworthy manner, his conduct involved dishonesty, deceit and misrepresentation, and he engaged in conduct that seriously interfered with the administration of justice.”

At this juncture, I’m not going to comment on the merits of the complaints against Justice Thomas, but the second complaint (.pdf), filed with the Department of Justice, is particularly disturbing. It alleges that for a period of twenty years, Justice Thomas failed to disclose his wife’s income on the legally-mandated AO 10 Financial Disclosure Forms he was required to file – including the income his wife received from Liberty Central, an organization that stood to benefit from the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, __ U.S. __, 103 S. Ct. 876 (2010).

Cleary this, and not the inappropriate tweeting of “junk” pictures, is the most important political story in the U.S. today, and we owe it to ourselves – not as liberals or conservatives, but as Americans – to make sure this story gets the attention it deserves. On this Sunday’s edition of The Tim Corrimal Show we plan to go into the Clarence Thomas scandal in further detail. Meanwhile, Joy-Ann Reid of the Reid Report has been keeping tabs on the story here, with extensive analysis and links to any number of additional resources about the scandal.

Bear in mind, at this point I’m not saying Justice Thomas is guilty or innocent; I’m saying this is a huge issue that cannot be swept under the carpet in favor of some run-of-the-mill political salaciousness.

© 2011 David P. von Ebers. All rights reserved.

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