WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats announced on Monday their plans to subpoena Republican megadonor Harlan Crow and conservative activist Leonard Leo for further details regarding their involvement in organizing and financing luxury travel for Supreme Court justices.
The Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee revealed their intention as pressure mounts on the court to adopt an ethics code, a move that has garnered public support from three of the nine justices.
Crow has been identified as a longtime supporter of Justice Clarence Thomas, having financed nearly annual vacations for him, purchased the Georgia home where his mother currently resides, and contributed to funding private education for a family member.
Leo, an executive at the Federalist Society who collaborated with former President Donald Trump to shift the court and the federal judiciary to the right, along with Arkley, facilitated and financed a private jet trip to Alaska for Justice Samuel Alito in 2008.
Justice's Private Travel Investigation
According to the committee, Arkley and Leo have refused to cooperate with the ongoing investigation into the largely undisclosed private travel of the justices.
Limited Cooperation Offered
The committee stated that Crow offered to provide certain limited information, but it did not meet the committee's needs or entitlement.
Legislation for Stronger Ethics Standards
In July, the Judiciary panel passed a legislation that aims to enforce stronger ethics standards for the justices. The bill includes rules for transparency regarding recusals, gifts, and potential conflicts of interest.
Unlikely Passage of the Bill
Unfortunately, the bill faces an uphill battle in the closely divided Senate. Republican senators have expressed strong opposition, stating that it could potentially "destroy" the court.
Separate Probe on Thomas' Loan
In addition to the Judiciary Committee's investigation, Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have released their findings on a separate probe concerning a $267,000 loan. This loan enabled Justice Thomas to purchase a luxury motorcoach in 1999. The committee discovered that the loan, provided by Thomas' longtime friend Anthony Welters, was potentially forgiven after Thomas made interest payments over a span of nine years.
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