A group once led by far right activist Ginni Thomas, spouse of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, received nearly $600,000 in anonymous donations to oppose progressive cultural causes, a new report from The Washington Post details.
From 2019 until the start of 2022, fledgling right-wing group Crowdsourcing for Culture and Liberty received funds through a “fiscal sponsorship” — an arrangement that allowed it to raise money without having to disclose where it came from, according to the Post’s report. This ensured that donors could remain hidden while the group advocated against what it described as “cultural Marxism.”
Under Thomas’s direction, fundraising dollars were funneled through Capital Research Center (CRC), a right-wing think tank aligned with Crowdsourcers’s work. Around $400,000 of the $596,000 that CRC received on behalf of Crowdsourcers also went through a different group, Donors Trust, which has a history of collecting money from wealthy conservative donors seeking to avoid disclosing their identities.
Donors Trust, for example, has spent millions of dollars funding groups that have propagated false claims about election fraud. It has also funded advocacy for voting laws that would disenfranchise members of marginalized communities.
Thomas, who no longer works for Crowdsourcers, appealed to donors by calling for right-wing “warriors” against what she claimed was a plot by the left to “[erode] the pillars of our country.”
“Conservatives and Republicans are tired of being the oppressed minority,” Thomas said in one fundraising video uncovered by The Post.
The groups used to funnel the anonymous funds to Crowdsourcing for Culture and Liberty have played a major role in attempting to influence the federal judicial branch, observers have noted. Although a lawyer for Thomas told The Post there was “no plausible conflict of interest issue” with respect to her husband’s work, many have voiced skepticism over that assertion.
“Donors Trust was central to the far-right Court-packing operation, and now they pass secret donor funds to a justice’s spouse, but ‘no plausible conflict of interest’? Please,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) wrote on Twitter.
“Yet another shocking display of audacity by the spouse of a sitting Supreme Court justice that raises brand-new questions about ethics and potential conflicts of interest,” MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace said in response to the report. Ginni Thomas’s work in far right circles is “exactly why the public doesn’t trust” the institution of the Supreme Court, she added.
Indeed, although both Thomases insist they do not discuss their work at home, there is reason to doubt these claims. When the Supreme Court was charged with deciding whether communications from former Trump administration chief of staff Mark Meadows — which likely included texts from Ginni Thomas encouraging Meadows to overturn the 2020 presidential election — should be turned over to the January 6 commission, eight justices agreed that the material should be handed to the committee. Clarence Thomas was the lone dissenting justice.
Though the Court’s ethical guidelines encourage justices to recuse themselves “in any proceeding in which his [or her] impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” Clarence Thomas has never recused himself from a case that has involved his wife’s work.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate potential conflicts of interest between the two late last year. “The Judiciary Committees have responsibility for the oversight of our judiciary and law enforcement agencies, and investigating Ginni Thomas’s conduct and Justice Thomas’s failure to recuse is an essential exercise of that oversight responsibility,” the organization’s president, Noah Bookbinder, said in October.
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