Weekly Spotlight: Loan forgiveness at the Supreme Court

Yet another ethics violation joins the mounting pile

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The Senate Finance Committee reported earlier this week that Justice Clarence Thomas may have had a loan of more than $267,000 either partially or completely forgiven by the wealthy friend who had loaned it to him. That friend, health care businessman Anthony Welters, loaned Thomas the money for a luxury bus RV. According to the Senate Finance Committee, Thomas did not report that loan in his financial disclosures. In addition, if Welters did forgive the loan in whole or in part, Thomas would have been required to report that to the IRS under the U.S. tax code, but it’s not clear whether he did so.

As you may know, Thomas is not the only justice in the hot seat. The past few months has brought a steady, stunning stream of ethics violations by multiple sitting justices to light. While one justice has publicly come out in favor of a code of conduct for the court — something we have long been pushing for — it is clear that we cannot rely only on the court to police itself.

We’re pleased the Senate Finance Committee is taking Justice Thomas’s ethics violations seriously. The only way Congress can fully address the breadth and depth of corruption at the highest and most powerful court of the land is with persistent oversight. Congress has the constitutional authority and the means to investigate the ultra-wealthy benefactors of the justices and the possible conflicts of interest at the Supreme Court. POGO supports and encourages them to step firmly into that power to ensure this unacceptable behavior doesn’t go unanswered for.


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