The law is a little different for those at the top.
As the world now knows, Justice Clarence Thomas did not disclose a real estate deal he and his family made in 2014 with Harlan Crow, a billionaire Republican donor. Thomas and several other relatives sold his mother’s home in Savannah, Ga., along with two vacant lots, for $133,363 to a company owned by Crow.
“Soon after the sale was completed,” according to ProPublica, “contractors began work on tens of thousands of dollars of improvements.”
Thomas’s mother, Leola Williams, 94, still lives in the house. Neither she nor the justice appears to pay rent.
There is some dispute over whether Thomas actually violated federal disclosure laws by accepting gifts from Crow — as ProPublica also revealed — without reporting them to the government. Thomas’s legal obligations on this real estate transaction are a little more straightforward. Under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, passed in the wake of Watergate, federal officials, including members of the federal judiciary, are required to disclose most real estate transactions totaling more than $1,000.
Clarence Thomas, in other words, may have broken the law. [Continue reading…]