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Alison Gendar and Corky Siemaszko, NY Daily News: House Democrats say Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is out of order for hiding payout to wife

House Democrats say Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is out of order for hiding payout to wife
by Alison Gendar and Corky Siemaszki, September 29, 2011

Congressional Democrats demanded an ethics investigation Thursday into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for allegedly failing to disclose that his wife was paid $700,000 by a conservative think tank.

They say Thomas marked off the “none” box on his annual financial disclosure form while his wife, Virginia, was raking in the dough working for the Heritage Foundation.

Between 2003 and 2007, she was paid $700,000, they claim.

“To believe that Justice Thomas didn’t know how to fill out a basic disclosure form is absurd,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Democrat from Rochester, N.Y.

Slaughter has asked the Judicial Conference of the United States to decide whether Thomas’ disclosure mess should be passed on to the Justice Department for review. The question is whether Thomas has failed to comply with the Ethics in Government Act of 1978.

It requires all federal judges to disclose their spouse’s employer.

Thomas insisted through a spokesman that any omissions were “inadvertent.” He declined further comment.

That’s the same excuse Thomas used in January, after a liberal watchdog group called him out for not adding his wife’s place of employment to his disclosure forms.

Thomas went back and corrected some 20 years worth of the required documents, saying the info “was inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.”

In the amended reports, Thomas said his wife worked for the Heritage Foundation from 1998 to 2003.

He also noted that she worked for Hillsdale College for three months in 2008 – but he did not fill in the five-year gap during which his wife allegedly made big bucks at the Heritage Foundation.

Nor did Thomas mention that Virginia Thomas also worked for Liberty Central, a conservative group with Tea Party ties she co-founded in January 2009.

Last year, Virginia Thomas placed her husband in a tricky position when an article attributed to her that called President Obama‘s health care reform unconstitutional appeared on the Liberty Central web site. She then stepped down from running the group’s daily operations.

Thomas, who is not supposed to let politics affect his legal decision-making, and the rest of the Supreme Court is expected to rule next summer on the constitutionality of Obama’s healthcare plan – what critics call Obamacare.

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