Clarence Thomas accepted private school tuition payments for his grandnephew, who he previously said he raised like a son, from GOP megadonor Harlan Crow, according to another bombshell report about the Supreme Court justice's undisclosed gifts.
A financial statement obtained by ProPublica revealed that Crow paid for a least a month's worth of private boarding school tuition for Mark Martin, Thomas' grandnephew, in July 2009. A former administrator at Hidden Lake Academy in Georgia further alleged that Crow paid for Martin's $6,000-a-month tuition for the entire year.
The billionaire businessman also reportedly paid for Martin's tuition at a second boarding school, Randolph-Macon Academy in Virginia, which is Crow’s alma mater.
The latest bombshell comes after ProPublica first reported that Thomas failed to disclose luxury vacations, private jet travel, megayacht adventures, and real estate deals he accepted from Crow. Thomas previously responded to the report, saying he didn't think he had to disclose “personal hospitality” from a friend.
In a statement to ProPublica, Crow denied that the justice requested he pay for Martin's schooling.
“Harlan Crow has long been passionate about the importance of quality education and giving back to those less fortunate, especially at-risk youth,” Crow said in the statement. “As part of his desire to perpetuate the American dream for all, and believing education is the great equalizer, he and his wife have supported many young Americans through scholarship and other programs at a variety of schools, including his alma mater.”
On Thursday (May 4), Mark Paoletta, Thomas' lawyer, took to Twitter to defend the justice’s failure to disclose Crow’s tuition payments. Paoletta said the payments "did not constitute a reportable gift" because Crow paid the schools directly on Martin's behalf. He also argued that a grandnephew doesn't legally constitute as a "dependent child" under ethics rules.
Paoletta said Crow offered to pay Martin's tuition at both schools.
“Justice Thomas never asked Harlan Crow to pay for his great nephew’s tuition. And neither Harlan Crow, nor his company, had any business before the Supreme Court,” Paoletta wrote. “This malicious story shows nothing except for the fact that the Thomases and the Crows are kind, generous, and loving people who tried to help this young man.”