The controversy over Ginni Thomas’s advocacy work continues.
The post Ginni Thomas’s Activist Group Got $600,000 In Anonymous Donations To Fight ‘Cultural Marxism’ appeared first on Above the Law.
You might think that, given all the ethics controversies and outrage surrounding her advocacy work that Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, might take a break from it all. After all, it’s cast a pallor on her husband’s — who is supposed to avoid even the appearance of impropriety — work and legacy as she’s absolutely worked on causes and cases that Clarence would eventually rule on. Indeed, Clarence has to adjudicate all manner of controversies that intersect with his wife’s interests — even before Ginni’s post-election advocacy made Clarence’s votes on matters related to the January 6th committee super suspect. Remember, she led a grassroots movement in support of Trump’s travel ban, worked for right-wing think tanks, and led efforts to defeat the Affordable Care Act. (And if the Thomas household just happens to make ~$700,000 in income for Ginni’s advocacy work that — oopsie! — Clarence forgets to report on disclosure documents, well, what can be done?)
But recent reporting by the Washington Post reveals Ginni’s even more involved in dark money aimed at remaking America over in the right-wing’s image than previously thought. For the first time, the Post links Ginni Thomas to anonymous donors — though those aforementioned ethics concerns have led her to step away from the advocacy group:
The previously unreported donations to the fledgling group Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty were channeled through a right-wing think tank in Washington that agreed to serve as a funding conduit from 2019 until the start of last year, according to documents and interviews. The arrangement, known as a “fiscal sponsorship,” effectively shielded from public view details about Crowdsourcers’ activities and spending, information it would have had to disclose publicly if it operated as a separate nonprofit organization, experts said.
The Post’s investigation sheds new light on the role money from donors who are not publicly identified has played in supporting Ginni Thomas’s political advocacy, long a source of controversy. The funding is the first example of anonymous donors backing her activism since she founded a conservative charity more than a decade ago. She stepped away from that charity amid concerns that it created potential conflicts for her husband on hot-button issues before the court.
But make no mistake about it, though she may not be active with the group anymore, Ginni is still proud of the work she did there:
In a brief statement to The Post, Mark Paoletta, a lawyer for Ginni Thomas, said she was “proud of the work she did with Crowdsourcers, which brought together conservative leaders to discuss amplifying conservative values with respect to the battle over culture.”
“She believes Crowdsourcers identified the Left’s dominance in most cultural lanes, while conservatives were mostly funding political organizations,” Paoletta wrote. “In her work, she has complied with all reporting and disclosure requirements.”
He wrote: “There is no plausible conflict of interest issue with respect to Justice Thomas.”
Well, why don’t you let the public see the list of donors and we’ll make that determination for ourselves? No? You aren’t going to do that? We just need to take your word… hmmmmm. Suspicious.
So, how much anonymous money are we talking here? Just about $600,000 in 2019:
In 2019, anonymous donors gave the think tank Capital Research Center, or CRC, $596,000 that was designated for Crowdsourcers, according to tax filings and audits the think tank submitted to state regulators. The majority of that money, $400,000, was routed through yet another nonprofit, Donors Trust, according to that organization’s tax filings. Donors Trust is a fund that receives money from wealthy donors whose identities are not disclosed and steers it toward conservative causes.
To get those donations, Thomas painted a clear vision of the far-right world she’s hoping to craft:
On May 18, 2019, Thomas told influential right-wing donors and activists about Crowdsourcers in a private meeting, video from the event shows. The left, she said, was pushing “cultural Marxism” and “eroding the pillars of our country.”
“We have some culture warriors, but we have a lot more to do,” Thomas said at a meeting of the Council for National Policy in Northern Virginia, according to the video, which was obtained by the nonprofit watchdog Documented and has been previously reported. “Conservatives and Republicans are tired of being the oppressed minority.”
And wouldn’t you know it? Right at that exact time, the CRC’s advocacy work took them to 1 First Street:
In 2019, the year the funding arrangement began, a trade group that represents industrial companies, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, had unsuccessfully sued Oregon over a program that regulates how fuels are produced and transported.
On Feb. 8 of that year, CRC joined free-market groups including the Cato Institute and the Pacific Legal Foundation in an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to reconsider lower court decisions upholding the program.
It was the only time CRC, founded in 1984, has filed a brief with the court in recent decades, according to Supreme Court records dating to 2001.
For the court to hear a case, at least four justices must agree.
On May 13, 2019, the court declined to hear the case.
Ginni Thomas has steadfastly maintained she and Clarence never discuss matters before the Court — no matter how improbable that may seem. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t real questions about the ethical standard Clarence Thomas holds himself to.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @Kathryn1@mastodon.social.