Non-Disclosure – Inadvertent or Intentional to Hide Obvious Conflict of Interest?

Opinion by Patricia L Johnson

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is once again in the news, this time for failing to properly report the employment of his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas on his “Nomination Financial Disclosure Report”. Justice Thomas subsequently sent seven letters to the Committee on Financial Disclosure, dated January 21, 2011, requesting an amendment to Part III B of these reports to indicate the following employment data for his wife.

U.S. Department of Labor – January 1989 to January 1993

U.S. House, House Republican Conference (Rep. Dick Armey) – January 1993 to January 1995

U.S. House, House Majority Leader (Rep. Dick Armey) – January 1995 to January 1998

The Heritage Foundation – December 1998 to December 2003

The Heritage Foundation – 2004 – 2007 – no dates provided

The Heritage Foundation – January 2008 to October 2008

Hillsdale College – October 2008 to December 2008

Hillsdale College – 2009 – no dates provided

The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 requires all presidential nominees to indicate where their spouse works. Some news outlets are reporting this story as a failure of Justice Thomas to report his wife’s $700,000 income, but this particular form does not require data on earnings. The sole purpose of the disclosure is to ensure there is no ‘conflict of interest’.

Justice Thomas indicates in his seven letters to the Committee that the data was “inadvertently omitted due a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.” Was his omission simply an error, or intentional?

Justice Thomas, in his original filings and subsequent amendments, has forgotten to add one tiny little fact, the fact that his wife is Founder and CEO of Liberty Central. For those of you that are not familiar with Liberty Central you can learn all about them by reading one sentence quoting Ginni Thomas from their September 10, 2010 Press Release as follows:

“Liberty Central is proud to be a part of the March on DC events this week and it’s an honor to personally welcome all these patriots who are voicing their opposition to the Obama, Pelosi, and Reid agenda,” said Thomas”

Justice Thomas was one of the five justices voting to reverse prior limits applied to corporations and unions Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Supreme Court decision now allows unlimited corporate and union support of candidates and causes.

According to a UPI article, Virginia Thomas started Liberty Central with a $550,000 investment from two undisclosed donors; this was after the Supreme Court decision had been made.

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